By Kaleb Page
April 24, 2015
Being a professional coach these days comes with more scrutiny than ever before. With 24-hour news cycles, social media and podcasts, there is no shortage of debate on how well a coach is actually coaching.
For much of professional coaching, especially in the past, the leash on a coach was at least three to four years. However, given the right circumstances that leash can be shortened or it can get the extension.
Scott Brooks was fired Wednesday by the Oklahoma City Thunder. After seven seasons as the head coach, the team decided to fire Brooks and look to go in a different direction. It’s surprising given what Brooks did in his time as a coach. He had a career record of 338-207 (.620) and was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2010.
When Brooks started his career with the Thunder back in 2008 the team was an awful 22-47, for the next six seasons Brooks coached a team that hit at least 50 wins four times. That doesn’t include the 47-19 season (2011-12) that had the team in the NBA finals facing off with the ‘Big Three’ in Miami (the Thunder would lose).
This season for the Thunder, in the much tougher Western Conference, was a roller coaster ride. Every time your looked to see what the team was doing, there seemed to be a debilitating injury. For a good 90% of the season the team was without their superstar Kevin Durant (last year’s MVP). Russell Westbrook battled many injuries (missed 15 games) to still battle night in night out, make a push for the MVP and becoming a nightly triple-double machine. It also didn’t help that versatile big man, Serge Ibaka, fell to injury keeping him out for the big stretch run toward the playoffs.
Despite the setbacks, the team was in contention all the way up to the final game of the season for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Even though Brooks took this team from nothing to something. It still wasn’t good enough to stay off the chopping block.
Now, there’s the argument that Brooks had long enough with a lot of talent to get more Finals appearances and even an NBA title. However, I’m not picking up what they’re putting down.
If anything Brooks deserved at least another year. He was the original guy that was the voice leading this group of young talent, and it was in the hardest conference in the association.
To be honest I think the real look into scrutiny should be at GM. Yes, GM Sam Presti is a bright mind at that position but there are some questionable moves that have put this team down this so-called path.
Let’s look at this team when they got to the NBA Finals. When they were in the Finals this team had Westbrook, Durant and James Harden (Yeah…you read that right). Now imagine, that team still together as a dynamic big three and even a big four if you factor in Ibaka. However, the GM took part in a three team trade that sent Harden to Houston and got Kevin Martin in return.
Yeah, let’s just say that didn’t pan out with Martin being an afterthought and leaving after just one year.
You could even look at the trade that let Jeff Green go and gave the team Kendrick Perkins. A deal that wrapped up so much money in Perkins, that it could have been used elsewhere (i.e. James Harden).
I know the coach is the figure-head of the team, and he will take the fall 9 times out of 10. In all honesty, it looks like there needs to be some changing elsewhere as well.
…But I guess that’s none of my business. (Enjoy Shaq and Charles Barkley’s take)