Tag: Oklahoma City Miami

Scott Brooks

Thunder, coach Scott Brooks still fighting over new contract


The NBA finals were not Scott Brooks finest hour. He lived with players that were struggling — Kendrick Perkins — while leaving players impacting the game more on the bench. He didn’t stick with his rotations. Perkins even called him out.

But Brooks is part of the family, the young coach that has grown up with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. They are not going to let him go, right? Right?

Not so fast, warns Marc Stein at ESPN. The two sides have been talking for months now and there is no deal in place.

Scotty Brooks’ contract as OKC coach ends when June ends. The widespread assumption persists that Brooks and the Thunder will hammer out a new deal now that they no longer have a deep playoff run to manage, but sources close to the process continue to caution that A) extension talks have been slow-moving for weeks now and B) concern is rising within the organization that the sides are not nearly as destined to reach an agreement as everyone else around the league presumes.

Sources told ESPN.com this week that the Thunder have offered Brooks an annual salary “north of $4 million.” But those same sources maintain that the length of the deal is the primary holdup. Brooks is said to be seeking a guaranteed four-year deal; sources say OKC prefers a two- or three-year deal.

For all his flaws, he is a guy who just coached a young team all the way to the NBA finals. He’s a guy that made adjustment in the conference finals that Gregg Popovich couldn’t match. He’s a guy Durant and Westbrook like and trust. Keeping him seems a no-brainer.

Are you going to try and introduce a new coach, a new system, a new everything on a team that just went to the NBA finals? It’s hard to imagine a deal not getting done.

But it’s out there. Stranger things have happened. And the Thunder have already started to formulate a Plan B, just in case.

Video: Miami Heat rain down threes on Thunder

Miami Heat's Miller shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder's Westbrook during the first quarter in Game 5 of the NBA basketball finals in Miami

It has always been the fear of other teams facing the Miami Heat — with two of the best dribble penetration guys in the league in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, if they their shooters started knocking down threes they were going to be unbeatable.

As evidence, we present you every three from the Heat’s title-clinching 121-106 Game 5 win Thursday night.

Not that the Thunder did a terrible job contesting. Note that the Heat had fantastic ball movement. Note that Mike Miller really isn’t this good anymore but was for a night.

Scott Brooks nightmare will look a lot like this video.

Thunder learn one more painful lesson, talk about taking one more step

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook

To a man, as they hugged the Larry O’Brien trophy, Miami Heat players said the sting of losing in the finals last year drove them to their win this year. They felt the pain, absorbed the lessons and got better.

As the clock was winding down and the party was winding up inside AmericanAirlines Arena Thursday night, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden stood together, huddled at the end of the bench talking. Saying exactly what Heat players said a year ago.

“We hugged each other and told each other to embrace this feeling and remember this feeling,” Westbrook said. “We’ve got to be the guys that just got to get better, man, before we can find a way to get back here.”

And everyone — including LeBron James, who said as much after the game — expect the Thunder will be back on this stage. And they will be better.

We’ve seen it before. For the past three years the Thunder have been eliminated by the eventual champion — first the Lakers, last year the Mavericks and this year the Heat. The previous two years the Thunder used those lessons to come back a smarter, more ready NBA team.

To a man after they were eliminated from the finals in Game 5 — a 121-106 Heat win — the Thunder players talked about what it will take to get back to here and be better next year.

“There’s things that wen have to work on,” coach Scott Brooks said. “I’ve never used age as an excuse. But we got some incredible experience these last three years of being the playoffs and it kind of – it has helped us get to this point and to compete at this level.”

The next step is on the defensive end for this team — they were a solid defensive team (OKC was ninth in the league in points allowed per possession) but the Heat won this series because they could find a level of defense the Thunder could not.

“But just one thing, (the Heat) played extremely physical basketball,” Brooks said. “They are a very athletic team and they use it every possession, and that’s something we will talk about. You have it, you better use it.”

There is also the focus that is needed.

“I think now we know that every possession in the finals matters. It counts,” James Harden said. “There were several possessions that we just gave away (in Game 5). I think that third quarter, we brought the lead out to five quick (it was 7), and then they hit two threes in a row. Every possession matters in the finals. We just gave too many away.”

They gave away a few all series. And that stung the Thunder. A lot. Thunder players all talked about being a family and you could see the tears and feel the emotion as they left the floor. You could see it as Kevin Durant talked to his mom. The key — the thing the Thunder’s three leaders were already talking about — was to use that as fuel.

“You just have a lot of regrets but the only thing you can do is get back to work,” Kendrick Perkins said. “And each individual has to think about it when you’re lifting weights, as you run suicides, just think about this feeling, think about this moment and how close we came. We just fell short.”

You get the sense this team will be back. And once again they will have learned a lesson. They will be better. And that could be scary good.