Steven Adams' future at the Oklahoma City Thunder is bright, according to general manager Sam Presti.
During OKC's early exit from the NBA playoffs last week, respected sportswriter Bill Simmons suggested the Kiwi was a viable trade option.
The author, podcaster and basketball analyst concluded Adams could be the 'fall guy' for the Thunder's 4-1 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Simmons said Adams was disappointing during the Thunder's short playoff run, questioning the 25-year-old's physical shape and value to the team.
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"The guy they are going to have to trade is Adams, who has been really, really disappointing… not only in this series, but down the stretch too," he said on The Bill Simmons Podcast.
"Adams is probably the fall guy coming out of this, because they are not going to break up Russell Westbrook and Paul George."
Those sentiments have gathered momentum, as fans and commentators ponder where the Thunder go from here.
But Presti appears to have challenged the current playing group to improve, rather than breaking them up and bringing in outside talent.
"This will be the first time in four years that we aren't entering the summer trying to convince a franchise player not to go to a bigger market," Presti told local media. "That is welcome from our end of things.
"The fact that we have Russ [Westbrook], Paul [George], Steven [Adams], Terrance [Ferguson], Dennis [Schroder] and Jerami [Grant] - the core of the team, the guys that play the minutes - that's the kind of stability that allows us to go into this off-season with a little bit of a different perspective than we have had in the past.
"That's healthy, because more than likely, our greatest path for improvement is the improvement within our core group.
"That improvement will be greater than any type of marginal addition that we could get when you consider the group that we have returning."
Presti even suggested Adams should expand his offensive repertoire in an era of three-point shooting big men
"He's a great encapsulation of this 70-30 concept," he said. "In the beginning of the year, he was dominant… a big reason we were 18 games over .500 and playing so well.
"He was calling for the ball in the post, he was really effective down there. He was putting people in the basket, he was rolling hard, he was doing the Steven Adams things that help you win games that don't always show up… those effort plays, physical plays.
"Then towards the end of the year, he didn't play as well, but that's not just him - that's a group thing. The number-one thing for him is he has got to become a better free-throw shooter.
"As a team, if our free-throw shooting just gets to the league average, it would have a significant impact on our offensive rating and net rating as a result.
"He can shoot the ball and we've all seen it for years in the practice gym.
"Internal development is a lot of creativity and imagination, and you've got to stick with that through the year."
Last week, Adams spoke of his desire to develop his game during the upcoming NBA off-season, but now that appears an expectation from his employers.