These Finals don’t feature coaching legends. Both Scott Brooks and Erik Spoelstra face constant doubts and criticism from fans and media. This is how it works if you haven’t won a title. Win one, and you’re on a whole other level, you have the credit built up and no matter what you get the benefit of the doubt. No one’s talking about Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers getting out-coached at the end of their series.
But even beyond that, Scott Brooks isn’t even on contract past this year. That’s pretty stunning. The man has guided the Thunder from tadpoles to warrior frogs, from the lottery to winning the Western Conference, and yet he doesn’t have a contract. Turns out that’s because the exact value of keeping Brooks is somewhat of a disagreement point for the Thunder and Brooks (and his agent). From Yahoo Sports:
What’s more, Brooks is still working to solidify his own future as Oklahoma City coach. GM Sam Presti wants him back when his contract expires at the end of the Finals, but league sources say Presti has offered a three-year deal worth just under $11 million that Brooks and his agent weren’t willing to accept in the past. They’ve set aside talks for the playoffs, and compromise could come with a guaranteed fourth year. The Thunder needed to see Brooks take one more step with this young team before committing too far into the long term, and Brooks delivered with a conference final victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
You have to imagine that Brooks has already won himself a larger contract than that with this playoff run. Winning a championship in particular puts him in a whole other price range. There’s also the value of keeping the stars happy, as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will want to retain Brooks should they win the title. There’s a psychological effect that draws people to want to stick together after success like that.
Brooks has been instrumental in crafting this team, in developing Westbook, Harden, Durant, and Ibaka. He’s built a solid roster with great chemistry that plays together. He’s done what’s been asked. He won’t be leaving the Thunder, but it’s going to wind up costing them. It’s difficult to see the Thunder wanting anyone else to take the reins.