Things are seen quite differently by even the most knowledgeable of NBA fans and people who actually work in the league – general managers and head coaches. Scott Brooks doesn’t get any appreciation outside that small little clique, but it doesn’t seem like criticism from the “outside world” is going to hurt his position as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The man who decides things in Oklahoma City is Sam Presti. Often praised for his choices with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, it seems that not coming back to the NBA finals since 2012, coinciding with trading James Harden, has hurt a little bit that image of a golden boy working magic behind the scenes. But Presti is pleased with the direction of the orginization and the work of Brooks, and that seems to be the only thing that matters.
Brooks has an excellent record. Except for a bad 2008-2009 season when this team was still oh so young, in its first year away from Seattle, he has had an impressive winning record each year. Overall he has a 293-170 record as the team’s head coach, leading them to the conference finals three times, including this season, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in six games.
The players love him, and especially the key guys, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The very free, run and gun offensive system he has set up for them gives the two superstars plenty of freedom, which means they’re happy to see Brooks calling the shots from the sidelines. Hardly any playcalling, as Brooks usually dabbles with defense more than anything. The same thing that makes him seem like someone who is riding the coattails of his players makes him so appealing to the stars themselves.
Bottom line is always what matters, but as Presti said, you can’t keep looking at the last game and series. There’s a bigger body of work here at play and up for review and when that comes to the operating table, Brooks is seen as someone who is steering the ship in the right direction, and overall doing a very good job. Whether it’s mostly him or his players it doesn’t matter, but the general direction is a very good one. The Thunder are young and primed to challenge for the title. According to the general manager, it’s not Brooks’ fault that the championship hasn’t arrived yet.
The Thunder will be making other decisions this summer – whether or not to re-sign Thabo Sefolosha and Caron Butler while waiting for the retirement announcement or not from Derek Fisher. There’s also the contract extension of Reggie Jackson. The Thunder, as of now, aren’t planning of doing some sort of sign-and-trade, even though they won’t be entering luxury tax under any condition. Then there’s the matter of giving Kendrick Perkins the amnesty clause. Right now, at least publicly, that’s off the table.