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Thunder will probably re-sign Scott Brooks… but if not, JVG and Phil are on the list

Jun 23, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Scott Brooks AP

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.

via Thunder’s next challenge: Brooks’ contract – TrueHoop Blog – ESPN.

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…

  1. jimthebuilder27 - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    The Pistons did let Larry Brown go! Too bad for them, and its really hurt them.

    • tim8rolls - Jun 23, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      Lose Brooks. He is not a winner. Winners push the petal to the metal and seize opportunities along the way. Lose Brooks. Find true leadership.

  2. brutl - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    So we’ve still got at least one OKC fan (Matt Moore) blaming the refs. I like how you sneak it into the end of the article that they were “a few calls” from winning a championship.
    A team doesn’t get beat in 5 games in the finals by the refs.

    • raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      …or “a few calls” could also mean a few questionable decisions by the head coach in his first-ever finals as the head man.

      However, yes, a lot of people do think bad calls cost the Thunder at least one game. One win, of course, in turn would have sent the series back to OKC and conceivably resulted in an entirely different outcome.

      Speaking for myself, as a Thunder fan, the Heat won fair and square. I tip my hat to them as they played far better team ball in that series than I saw from them the whole season.

      • tim8rolls - Jun 23, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        OKC fans didn’t have a coach in the finals. OKC had Westbrook. Brooks was as clueless as a fish trying to fly an airplane.

      • badintent - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:51 AM

        Brooks coached well. ! Now we find out that Perkins had torn his groin, so that ‘s why his minutes and effectiveness went down as the series progressed. All the second guessing by fans and the media is now shown to be flawed because of that player circumstances.Phil will never go to OKC, he has the perfect lifestyle for him on his Montana ranch. No Kobe, No Shaq and no Metta. Just some Wily coyotes and some strange sroons.

    • bougin89 - Jun 25, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      You could make a valid argument that games 2 and 3 were sealed by extremely questionable calls/non calls and both times Lebron ended up on the free throw line. Game 2 the no call foul by Lebron on Durant, then he travels, and then gets fouled by westbrook. Game 3 the James Harden flop was a horrible defensive play but where was the foul?

      Both games the Heat were already winning so its not like they were given to the Heat but the chance for the Thunder to tie/take the lead were arguably taken away by the refs.

  3. jeffw - Jun 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    No way JVG or Phil take this job. JVG has the perfect job for him and I don’t think the grind of coaching appeals to him any longer.
    Phil would be a bad fit for a very young and growing organization. His style and personality would clash with ownership and current management.

    • cosanostra71 - Jun 23, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      Phil would be a bad fit for a young and growing organization? Kind of like the Bulls and Lakers were when he took over both those squads?

      • crik911 - Jun 23, 2012 at 7:07 PM

        Well said, Phil has the hardware to pick wherever he wants to go. I think he just wants to take a break for a while, but we will see Phil again.

    • tim8rolls - Jun 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      I agree, but is OKC looking for a great coach with gametime skills or a celebrity coach who doesn’t have the energy for showtime? I am a Laker’s fan and would love to lose Brown. Coaching can never win you a game, but it most assuredly loses you the close ones and all of those games in which the opponent doesn’t have a great game.

  4. Miami305 - Jun 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    “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.”

    If you, mr. writer, believe that OKC was denied a championship because of “a couple of calls,” then you obviously did not see the same series everyone else did. Miami won because they are the better team and outplayed OKC. Please do not take away from Miami the credit the team deserves for beating a great team 4 games in a row.

    • tim8rolls - Jun 23, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      I do. Listen to his post-game remarks. He is not a winner. Lose Brooks, win championship!

    • bigmeechy74 - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:29 AM

      Wow you are obnoxious. The officiating was horrid and it favored miami. You can admit it or not, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Plus you got ridiculous performances from battier and mike miller making 7 of 8 3′s. that is so lucky and absurd. If OKC didn’t choke away game 4 then miami wouldn’t have “clearly” been the better team because they would have lost. Lebron was the best player on the court. And MIami won. And they deserved to win. But don’t act like they are that much better than okc and didn’t need some luck and help from the refs…. because they did. I would MUCH rather have the thunder’s roster going forward over the heat’s.

      • finalword33 - Jun 24, 2012 at 8:06 AM

        Plus, YOU got terrible performances from Harden and Perkins and Westbrook when it counted. Refs didn’t cause that. Better luck for Chokelahoma next season.

      • bigmeechy74 - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        Yeah man… “Chokelahoma.” ‘The thunder should be ashamed of themselves. Westbrook and durant are 23 and harden and ibaka are 22. What a bunch of losers!!! Guys that have been in the league for as long as they have should at least have 3 rings! Beating the mavs, lakers, and spurs meant NOTHING. What a bunch of chokers!

      • lucky5934 - Jun 30, 2012 at 8:49 AM

        Couldn’t agree more Bigmeechy74. Fact is, if you are a Heat fan you applaud all of the calls. If you are a Heat fan, you obviously noticed some missed calls by the refs. And yes, one more game won by the Thunder and (like one other poster wrote) we have a different series.

  5. raysfan1 - Jun 23, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Yep, KD always has his coach’s and teammates’ backs. It’s one of many reasons we Thunder fans love this guy, besides his obvious skills on the court.

  6. scalfor3 - Jun 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    man i hope they dont sign phil. i like the thunder, but phils a pompous a-hole

    • allthewaylive1 - Jun 23, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      So are you!

    • ron05342 - Jun 23, 2012 at 5:58 PM

      A pompous a-hole with 11 rings. Count ‘em and weep.

      • scalfor3 - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:54 AM

        never denied he’s a great coach. just think he’s a d!ckhead

  7. imforbigblue - Jun 23, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    There crying over $4 million for there coach now but what do you think these other two guys will want I bet more

    • knightrider1755 - Jun 23, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      Exactly. Phil made $12 million per year with the Lakers.

  8. ndirishfan1 - Jun 23, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Both Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy would command a much higher salary, so this is likely just to urge Scott Brooks into signing a deal. However, I do believe that if the price was right both Jackson and Van Gundy would jump at the chance to coach Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Seriously – the only coach who wouldn’t jump at that chance is Erik Spoelstra.

    Regardless, if OKC doesn’t want to shell out top dollar for a coach, they better stick with Brooks.

    • knightrider1755 - Jun 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      If OKC doesn’t want to pay Brooks $4 million, do you really think they’ll pay Phil $12 million?

      • ndirishfan1 - Jun 23, 2012 at 7:14 PM

        That’s exactly the point. Clearly looks like a bluff on OKC’s end.

      • florida727 - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:16 AM

        “Do you really think they’ll pay Phil $12 million?” Only if they actually expect to get him…

    • willhnic - Jun 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      I think this a the “grass is green on the other side of the fence” scenario. Let’s talk facts…Brooke’s has taken a young team further year over year and thus far to the Finals. He has been getting more and more from his team. He reaches a Final and people want to replace him? Maybe he is doing something that Phil and JVG can’t do? I think you let it ride with what works. You DO NOT REPLACE a coach that took your team to the finals and outcoached many prove coaches along the way. He has proven himself and the OKC organization would be smart to keep everything intact. The only thing that needs to be changed for next year is to make sure Westbrook makes better decisions and that Harden gets mentally tough so his confidence doesn’t fade. That’s what cost them the championship…to which i was hoping to see. :/

      Oh well…kudos to James and Dwade. They deserved it this year.

  9. fm31970 - Jun 23, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    I’ll say it again- Phil Jackson would be a great fit. This is the type of team he SHOULD want to coach and don’t tell me the Thunder aren’t on his list of a very few teams he would come out of retirement to coach.

    Brooks clearly isn’t at the same level of Jackson. If OKC wants to take the next step, they need to hire a serious, proven coach who is a proven winner.

    • jt1138 - Jun 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      Who would be the centerpiece of the Triangle offense? KD is a big, but he is not the style of player that would fit in that system. The only bigs the Thunder have are KD, Perkins, and Ibaka. I don’t count Collison because he has the stat-line of Dexter Pittman.

      • cosanostra71 - Jun 23, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        The triangle worked fine with Longley, Cartwright, Horace Grant and Rodman rotating through as the bigs…

  10. trevormcnamara - Jun 23, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    What about jerry sloan?

    • wjmoffatt - Jun 23, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      Exactly what I was thinking, OKC is small market, he doesn’t have to be in the spotlight, and the players will listen to him. Perfect fit

  11. ufullpj - Jun 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Phil & the neo-con mentality of OK and OK’s leadership would not be a good match for either side.

  12. rushbacker - Jun 23, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    JVG is about five times the coach Brooks is. . . let alone the Zen master. If the Thunder have a chance to bring one of those guys in, it would be more than worth the additional price. How nasty would OKC be with legitimate top-quality coaching? I’d hate to lose JVG from the broadcast side, though.

    • scalfor3 - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      wrong van gundy. stan will be a steal for whoever signs him

  13. rickyspanish - Jun 23, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Stay on the broadcasting team Van Gundy! You’re the only respite we have from Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller’s vanilla droning.

  14. iowahbr - Jun 23, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Van Gundy needs to stay where his is as the other NBA announcers are so vanilla (save Mr. Barkley who does no game by game) in their comments that you are better just turning off the volume during the game. Brooks was not at this best during the series on rotations but the disappearance of Harden was the fault of the Heat defense and not of Brooks. Jackson would be the most fun to watch but they will resign Brooks after some type of contract showdown dance.

  15. tim8rolls - Jun 23, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Why did THUNDER lose? Their players are 15-20% better overall compared to the HEAT. The THUNDER lost the FINALS because of their coach, Scott Brooks. Sure, Westbrook is like Kobe on bath salts, but I simply got up to order my food at Wendy’s after the THUNDER had a 17-point lead in game 4, nearing the end of the 1st quarter, and by the time I returned with my food the GAME WAS TIED! How was that possible? In the previous game, after Fisher had a 4-point play and 10-point lead, Brooks left Durant on the bench with 4 fouls but somehow enticed his players to foul two treys for 6 foul shots? The crowd had been neutralized on each occasion until BAD COACHING, BAD LEADERSHIP, and UNPREPAREDNESS to WIN all lurked around the THUNDER. LOSE BROOKS! Cherish these times. Get true leadership.

  16. icewinna0 - Jun 23, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    They’ll resign Brooks. No question

  17. mogogo1 - Jun 23, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Absolutely nothing against Brooks who is a fine coach, but if they could get Phil Jackson how could they NOT do that?

    • wjmoffatt - Jun 23, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      I don’t think Phil would be the answer, Triangle offense probably wouldn’t work with the roster they have on hand

  18. danoinokc - Jun 23, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    I agree there were a few bad calls against the Thunder, however not in last game. That game won by Heat by 3 point shooters. If I was GM of Thunder I would sign Scott Brooks as coach and go after more 3 point shooters. If nothing else but keep them on the bench until needed. Any team that can hit 14 plus, 3 point shot can withstand a “few bad” calls in any game. Don’t like the Heat, don’t care for Labron, but must admit they kept the series interesting until the 5th game. They did show their talent. The Thunder will be back, no doubt, more mature, more experienced, few new players. If they face the Heat in the finals again, that will be worth maxing a credit card to see.

  19. wjmoffatt - Jun 23, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    His a good coach but his not an elite coach. He clearly got out coached in the Finals. I know the Thunder aren’t a zone based defensive team, but come on, you had to have known going into this year you would probably be facing the Heat in the Finals, so why not develop it over the course of the season! That simple thing right there lost them the Finals, ask Dallas how they won their ring, zone defense on the Heat.

    • allthewaylive1 - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Once dwade handed over the reins of the team to Bron, and the Heat survived the Boston series, the zone defense was never going to be an effective stragedy against them again. The Heat was a very different team by the time the Finals began, and OKC was too inexperienced to stop them even if they could have gone zone.

  20. chance72 - Jun 24, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    admit it people scott brooks lost that series.he failed to make the proper adjustments and failed terribly utilizing his bench.he should be out.let some one with real experience take over.if phil wrre the coach the parade would be in okc!!!!!!

  21. veriskye1123 - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Anyone notice (Game one maybe Game 2) his reluctance to slow down the game during a flurry of transition plays until it was too late cost his team the game?

    I know a few times during close stretches I saw players coming out of Time outs and make a bad play because they weren’t situation-ally aware. That fault falls squarely on the coach when it happens coming out of a time out.

    And how many times were players out of position allowing those 3 point shooters of the heat to be open? It will happen over the course of a game and series but when you’re dying by it alone the coach needs to make adjustments and he failed.

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