Scott Brooks Did Not Deserve to be Fired

Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti relieved coach Scott Brooks of his coaching duties yesterday after the Thunder failed to qualify for the playoffs after losing a tie-breaker with the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth spot in the Western conference. Presti wanted to make it known Brooks was not fired for not making the playoffs in a season where the Thunder dealt with numerous injuries to key players.

Presti had this to say about letting Brooks go.

“It is very important to state that this decision is not a reflection of this past season, but rather an assessment of what we feel is necessary at this point in time in order to continually evolve, progress and sustain. We determined that, in order to stimulate progress and put ourselves in the best position next season and as we looked to the future, a transition of this kind was necessary for the program.”

It definitely seems like Presti and Brooks did not have a strong relationship. Presti may believe the Thunder should have won a title under Brooks in previous seasons with two of the top five players in the NBA on their roster- last year’s league MVP, forward Kevin Durant, and point guard Russell Westbrook who explodes to the whole better than anyone in the game.Scott+Brooks+9S19_PlR7bEm

This year’s season was doomed from the start. Durant missed 55 games to injury and Westbrook another 15. Fourteen of those games were with Durant also out of the lineup. Losing Serge Ibaka for the final 18 games of the season was too much for the Thunder to overcome. In fact, no player on the Thunder roster played more than 74 games during the season making it remarkable the Thunder still had a chance to make the playoffs on the final day of the season.

Brooks’ firing will put a lot of pressure on the incoming coach to establish a strong rapport with Durant and Westbrook who have strong relationships and a ton of respect for Brooks as a coach.

Said Westbrook of his former coach,

“He did a great job. I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does behind the scenes. Obviously, a lot of people that’s not in (the practice facility) want him to do other things, want to see other things from him. But as a coach and as a friend, I think he does an amazing job of communicating what he wants out of the players.”

Durant had this to add about Brooks who was an assistant in Seattle his rookie year before taking over as head coach the following season..

“He rallied us, man. He made sure everybody was emotionally stable. It was a lot of guys in and out the lineup and he kept everybody together. So that’s what your head coach is supposed to do. We can’t really say nothing about it because he did his job. He kept us together. That’s what the main thing was … So it’s kind of tough. But he did his best job he can do and I’m proud of him.”

Brooks was named coach of the year in 2010 and coached the Thunder to the NBA finals in 2012 only to lose to the Miami Heat and the big three of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Injuries over the last three seasons have derailed the Thunder’s ability to return to the finals.

Another strength for Brooks has been his ability to help develop players such as Westbrook and Ibaka. Westbrook entered the NBA as a talented, but raw point guard who is nowhere near the player he is today. When Ibaka came to the Thunder, he was another raw player who has developed into an excellent power forward who continues to improve.

Let’s face it, the Thunder are in it to win it next season as Durant’s contract ends after the 2015-2016 season. Brooks’ chemistry with his players would have been key to building continuity with the team. A new coach coming in will have to win the locker room and earn the respect of the players.

UConn’s Kevin Ollie has been rumored to take over the Thunder, but he has emphatically said he is happy at UConn and not looking to move. There is the possibility of Tom Thibodeau being let go in Chicago if the Bulls do not win a championship. Regardless of who the new coach is next season, he will reap the benefits of a strong roster and management’s desire to do what it takes to bring a championship. If he wins, the coach and Presti will be viewed as geniuses which is why Brooks deserved the opportunity to finish what he started.

And that’s as I see it!

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