Reports are out that state the Oklahoma City Thunder are not willing to publicly commit to head coach Scott Brooks. That tends to come to the surprise of some, while others have wanted Brooks’ head on a stick for a few seasons now. Regardless, by making such an unenthusiastic statement concerning Brooks’ job security, it seems like his time may be over with the team.
Or, well, maybe not.
Some have argued against firing Brooks because of Kevin Durant’s impending contract negotiations. With only one year left on his deal, and Durant being a firm supporter of Brooks, people seem to be miffed at the idea OKC would even consider such a move. They think, by moving on from Brooks for another coach, would do nothing but sway Durant away from the team in a year.
Eh. I suppose many have forgotten about very recent history.
Remember when Golden State canned Mark Jackson? He was as beloved a coach as there was in the NBA last season. Many assumed whoever the Warriors put in to replace him would fail because the locker room would be so unhappy with Jackson’s firing. Now, exactly how did that work out?
The same thing that applied to Golden State with their coaching change last year can be applied to a possible OKC switch this offseason. As in: Sometimes players won’t know a true good thing until it hits them right in the face.
We should probably be honest about this. Kevin Durant, a superstar any team in the league would love to build around, is probably in a position where he should have some say about who the next Thunder coach is. At the same time, though, Durant’s college basketball coach was Rick Barnes. Barnes’ biggest knock as a coach was his in-game coaching abilities. Naturally Scott Brooks, or nearly any other NBA coach for that matter, would feel like a step-up from Barnes for Durant.
Durant doesn’t know any better. Much in the same way many Golden State players didn’t know any better.
Not to mention the fact that the time to move on from Brooks, if that is what OKC does want to do, is now. Not because they missed the playoffs, either. It is for the very same reason some think firing him would be dumb — Kevin Durant’s pending free agency.
Give Durant a year to get over the firing of his coach. Bring in a guy who can actually help the offense come the next playoffs. Chances are he will forgive the Thunder for canning his guy, and realize that his life can be made much easier via a coach who knows how to design offensive sets better.
Sometimes smart, talented, and transcendent people don’t know what is best for them. Being captured by Durant’s feelings, given they have a year to prove him firing Brooks was the right move, is counterproductive. It has previously backfired on Cleveland, when they originally tried to keep LeBron James. Then it backfired on Miami, when they tried to keep him. Now the Heat are stuck with Shabazz Napier because James fancied him after an NCAA Tournament run, while the original “The Decision” fiasco resulted in the Cavaliers having Byron “three-pointers are the devil” Scott.
More so: Kevin Durant isn’t healthy. His future is somewhat uncertain. That doesn’t mean you don’t plan ahead with him in mind for the future. It just means Oklahoma City shouldn’t be married to the notion that Durant’s feelings are the end-all for them.
If the risk of firing Scott Brooks is that Durant might be mad for a few weeks… so be it. Not only will he likely get over it when he meets a more competent coach, but the risk-reward of bowing down to simply the idea it may offend him feels like a future 30 for 30 doc just waiting to happen.
“What if I told you Oklahoma City extended a basketball coach they no longer wanted for a superstar who left anyway…”
Oklahoma City should do what they want. I happen to think they should fire Brooks. He puts too much of an offensive workload on Durant, as well as his running mate Russell Westbrook — especially, historically, in the playoffs. A prime example being, in previous playoff runs: Brooks regularly penciled a lineup comprised of Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, alongside his two offensive juggernauts.
To recap that lineup: He put three guys out there who literally could not score buckets, which resulted in his two superstars being put in brutal situations because there were no other viable threats for the defense to respect, and never even learned from it until he was forced to when OKC traded away the offensively inept.
That is just my opinion. It is Oklahoma City’s that counts. And by that, in no way do I mean Kevin Durant gets a vote in Scott Brook’s future with the franchise. Like previously noted: Durant wouldn’t know what a good basketball coach is.
Don’t let him tell you he thinks Scott Brooks is the answer if you already know he isn’t, Oklahoma City.