The next head coach of the Washington Wizards will be former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. He reports that the deal is for five years and $35 million, and David Aldridge reports that all five years are guaranteed.
In seven seasons with Oklahoma City, Brooks racked up a record of 338-207. Only three active coaches (Gregg Popovich, Tom Thibodeau, Erik Spoelstra), have coached as many games as Brooks and achieved a higher winning percentage. But even with the gaudy record, Brooks has never been considered anything close to a top-tier coach.
Fair or not, the common perception is that Brooks was a failure in Oklahoma City. The Thunder never got over the NBA Finals hump—they only made it once—despite having two top-1o players. He was also never able to figure out to prevent the offense from grinding to a halt during the fourth quarter, as four players stood around watching Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook play iso-ball.
But perhaps that is unfair. Brooks was with the Thunder since they were garbage and certainly deserves some of the credit for Durant, Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka developing into the players they are today; even with the crunch time difficulties the Thunder was usually one of the best in the league; and he always seemed to be well-liked by his players, especially Durant.
About that. Durant is a free agent this summer, and if he truly likes Brooks as much as it appears, this figures to boost the Wizards’ chances of signing him. Every team in the league wants Durant, of course, but the Wizards feel they have an inside edge because they’re Durant’s hometown team.
Washington will be a good test of Brooks’s abilities. There is clearly talent on the roster, but not so much that they can roll the ball out there and easily make the playoffs (unless they sign Durant). And considering his contract guarantees $35 million, Brooks knows he has a long leash to implement whatever he believes needs to be implemented. Besides, he can’t be worse than Randy Wittman, can he?