Sam Presti completely understands Gordon Hayward’s frustration about how his end-of-season stint with the Thunder panned out.

Oklahoma City, the Western Conference’s best team in the regular season, traded away multiple players and picks to acquire Hayward from the Charlotte Hornets in early February. But the veteran forward proved not to be a big part of the 2023-24 Thunder’s plans, as he averaged less than 18 minutes per game across 23 regular-season contests and only played in seven of OKC’s 10 playoff games. Hayward played 10 minutes or less in all of those postseason tilts for the Thunder, who were bounced by the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semifinals.

Hayward admitted it was “frustrating” to have such a limited role with OKC, especially since he felt he had a lot to offer to a young team. Presti addressed those complaints in a media availability Tuesday.

“In Gordon’s defense, actually, I agree with him on a lot of that,” Presti told reporters, per a video from Thunder reporter Michael Martin. “We were really surging at that time and it’s hard to bring somebody in — I think he used the phrase ‘the train is moving.’ That’s accurate. Especially when we’re asking him and other players to do some things that maybe are different than what they have done in the past. “

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Presti also effectively admitted the trade for Hayward wasn’t primarily made to help out OKC this season. The deal for the 34-year-old, who is on an expiring contract, set the Thunder up to go big-game hunting this NBA offseason.

So when Hayward tests the open market this summer, we can probably rule out at least one potential landing spot.

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