The formula for building a winning franchise in any pro sport, is quite simple in theory; as it really comes down to a team having two qualities, talent and chemistry. As many teams have found over the years though, even a squad of All-Stars will lack success, if they can not get along. When a club has that perfect combination of skill and camaraderie, they have to do everything in their power to keep it, a task that has become harder in the age of Free Agency.
Just as importantly, if not more so, is for a team to have a coach or a manager that sets the right tone in the locker room and on the court. A man who the players both love and respect, a guy they would run through a brick wall, to please. Teams that have those type of leaders, often exceed expectations, in part because they don’t want let their leader down.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, found that perfect combination during the 2008-2009 campaign, when the team fired former head coach P.J. Carlesimo and replaced him with his former assistant Scott Brooks. Inheriting a club that had opened the season with a 1-12 mark, the new bench boss did a remarkable job of turning his squad around, taking them to this year’s NBA Finals, before they lost to the Miami Heat.
Barring injury, the Thunder’s future is bright on the court, however they could find themselves heading into next season without their head coach, as “Yahoo Sports,” has reported that Brooks and the club are far from reaching an agreement, as they negotiate a new deal for the Oklahoma City bench boss. The website’s sources state that the team originally offered Brooks a three-year deal reportedly for $11 million, which the coach turned down. The team reportedly has consented to give Brooks a four-year pact, but the sources state that the two sides are far apart on how much the coach will earn in the deal.
Brooks contract with club, expires on Saturday and according to the coach’s agent Warren LeGarie, he would quickly draw interest from the Portland Trail Blazers, who looking to fill the vacancy on their bench. The Orlando Magic, would also most likely want to talk with Brooks about replacing Stan Van Gundy, who was fired after the Playoffs. Once Brooks contract expires, he is free to talk with any other team in the Association, which could drive up his asking price even higher.
Brooks has a record of 174-125 (.582) during the regular season since taking over the bench and has led the Thunder to a 24-19 (.558) in the Playoffs. He was named the NBA Coach Of The Year in the 2009-2010 campaign and the team has climbed to new heights each year he has been the coach. Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti and Team Majority Owner Clay Bennett, are deluding themselves, if they do not believe that Brooks has been just as an important part of the team’s success as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. For this team to keep up its current trajectory, they must have Brooks on the bench.
When Scott Brooks played in the Association, he was a scrappy hard-nosed player, who made up for any lack of talent with his knowledge of the game, plus the effort he showed on the court each time he was put in a game, keeping him in the NBA for ten seasons as a journeyman role player. He has maintained that style since taking over the Thunder bench, which has filtered down to his players; you look at the bench during games and you see the players are really a family. It transfers to the court as well; although Russell Westbrook tends to go off every once in a while, for the most part they play a team game.
Brooks at the age of 46-years-old, is just starting what could turn out to be a very long and successful career as an NBA bench boss. The Thunder would be foolish if they do not lock him up for the next four years.