Sam Presti could exceed Bulls' typical price range for front office hires


With changes reportedly coming to the Bulls' management structure this offseason, rumors have swirled that Sam Presti could be a top target for a new and empowered voice in the organization's front office.

But according to NBC Sports Chicago Bulls Insider K.C. Johnson, if the Bulls do decide to pursue Presti, his asking price could exceed the organization's preferred range. Here's what Johnson wrote in a recent mailbag:

As previously reported, Bulls president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf is doing due diligence on multiple candidates and multiple options. He’s seeking feedback from a wide variety of sources on a wide variety of candidates. Surely, the Bulls are performing due diligence on big names like Presti and Raptors president Masai Ujiri. Talk around the league is that the Raptors wouldn’t let Ujiri go but that Presti is so close with Thunder owner Clay Bennett that Bennett would let his friend pursue other opportunities if Presti wanted.

What’s unknown is whether Presti would want to leave the Thunder, particularly after setting the franchise up for the future with multiple first-round picks from the Paul George and Russell Westbrook trades. And it also should be noted that the Bulls historically have not operated as a big-spending franchise when it comes to management. It would take upwards of $9 to $10 million to even get Presti to the negotiating table. The sniffing around I’ve done on this story leads me to believe that that’s not a route the Bulls plan to take. Things can change, and this process is a fluid one. But my educated guess is the Bulls will hire multiple people for a restructured front office and spend their money that way. 

The motivation to pursue Presti from the Bulls' perspective would be obvious. Presti has had an incredibly successful run as general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2007 — he built a homegrown juggernaut by drafting Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka early in his tenure, swung a blockbuster trade for Paul George in 2017 that extended the team's window of contention after Durant bolted in free agency, and just last summer parlayed George and Westbrook into a treasure trove of future assets — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and somewhere between five and seven first-round picks (protections pending, plus four pick swaps) — with which to rebuild. At 38-24 and seeded sixth in a crowded Western Conference, the Thunder are one of the better stories of this NBA season and are set up for as bright a future as any team in the league.

This summer is one that seems sure to bring change in some capacity for the Bulls. But, as Johnson notes, investing top dollar in one big-fish front office candidate doesn't fit the organization's M.O., historically. Anything can happen, but let's not get too ahead of oursevles with this rumor for the time being.

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