Scott Brooks likely is not focused on what happens after this season quite yet. In all likelihood, it will take care of itself once the Thunder’s season ends — championship or not.
You still cannot blame Thunder fans for worrying that their head coach will go elsewhere this offseason. And while it’s a concern for later, it is still a concern.
Scott Brooks might be the hottest free agent on the market.
Brooks’ contract runs out at the end of the year and the two sides have already hit a bit of a wall. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes Brooks turned down a three-year, $11 million before the two sides agreed to postpone any further negotiations to the end of the season.
With high profile jobs still on the market — like Orlando and Portland — Brooks could have good bargaining position once the Finals end.
It isn’t beyond possibility that Brooks tries to use the Portland and Orlando jobs as leverage at season’s end, but it’s hard to imagine him walking away from this Thunder core – with or without a title. And for all the Thunder’s bluffing, let’s be honest: Who are they going to hire? Presti is controlling in the way he runs the Thunder, and there are a lot of strong-minded, opinionated coaches who’d never fit into his culture.
Wojnarowski speculates that a compromise likely will be reached in offering a fourth year. Still, Brooks could become the biggest coaching free agent since Nate McMillan left Seattle for Portland in 2005 after leading a surprising Sonics team out of the first round for the first time in seven years.
Considering how disposable coaches are, Brooks (or his agent at least) probably understands the leverage he has to get a deal that favors him, even against a tough negotiator like Sam Presti. And surely if there are still vacancies to be filled and Brooks’ contract issues run out longer than they should, the sharks will begin circling — remember that Tom Thibodeau is also working on an extension in Chicago.
Undoubtedly Oklahoma City will do whatever it can to retain Brooks. He has taken the Thunder from the very bottom of the league to the very top and his coaching has a lot to do with that. He found the right balance to push his young team to a Finals appearance much sooner than anyone would have thought.
Obviously, getting those last three wins to complete the journey will be even more difficult. And that is Brooks’ ultimate goal for the moment. The contract talks will take care of itself later.
Rest assured, the Thunder are likely to take care of their guy, despite any uncertainty that might exist currently as the Finals continue.