You know, for a guy who just won his conference, Scott Brooks can’t really get much respect. OK, he gets a lot of respect. But probably not as much as he deserves.
Brooks is of course without a contract extension, a free agent after June 30th, despite having just navigated a team so young it needs a parent to see films with the naughty bits to the NBA Finals. ESPN reports that Brooks and his agent are looking for a deal “north of $4 million per year” which puts him in line with what Tom Thibodeau reportedly wants. So what if the Thunder won’t pay it? What if they won’t go for the number of years, as ESPN reports is the hold-up?
ESPN also reports the Thunder have some, shall we say, back-up plans:
The reality is that Brooks and his bosses, after months of talks, don’t have a deal … and time is running out. And sources say that the Thunder, just to be safe, have started brainstorming in-house about whom they plan to pursue should negotiations with Brooks collapse. Two names, according to sources, that have come up in those discussions: ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy and, yes, 11-ringed coaching free agent Phil Jackson.
You’d still be wise to expect an extension for Brooks in the near future.
Those are some back-up plans. It’s likely that those names have been tossed out to try and drive down Brooks’ price. That’s the most likely scenario, that this is a bunch of smoke and mirrors in negotiation. But either one represents an interesting choice. Van Gundy is a bit of a worrier so that would be a radical departure, but his defensive schemes would do wonders in an area the Thunder need help. He brings credibility in a big way. But would he mess with the chemistry? You have to wonder if so many years away broadcasting have mellowed the former Knicks and Rockets coach.
Jackson… is a bit more complicated. Any deal with Jackson comes with ties to personnel control. And limitations on how much time he’ll be spending. And is Jackson really going to trek it to Oklahoma City that regularly, considering he’s already hanging out in remote Montana? The conservative nature of the Sooner State is likely an impact as well, it doesn’t exactly vibe with Jackson’s general outlook.
But Jackson’s reportedly been waiting on another “opportunity” and this would be a big one.
But, no. Brooks will be re-signed, because you don’t let the guy who took you to within three wins (or a couple of calls) of an NBA title walk away. Not when chemistry has been such a big contributing factor for the club, and not when the franchise ultra-star has the man’s back. It’s just not done.
But if Brooks is gone…