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Thunder players stick up for Scott Brooks

Jun 2, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

Scott Brooks, Kevin Durant Scott Brooks, Kevin Durant

What, you expected Kevin Durant to throw his coach under the bus? Have you followed the guy at all?

“That’s our guy. I’m riding with him. I’m riding with him. It’s easy for everybody on the outside to criticize, but once you’re in the fire, once you’re in that arena, those are the guys that matter. The guys that share the blood, sweat and tears, and sleepless nights, those are the guys that count, those are the guys that matter in our book. Everybody on the outside really doesn’t.”

That was Kevin Durant when asked about Brooks’ job security, as transcribed by Royce Young at Daily Thunder.

Then there is Russell Westbrook, via Jeff Caplan at

“Ever since I’ve been here and Scotty became the head coach, he’s done a great job of having confidence in me personally,” Westbrook said. “There’s times where things have gone south and he’s the only one that always, always, regardless of what happened, always had my back; regardless of people saying I was doing this, I was doing that, I was being selfish, being that, he always was the first person to step up and have my back and support me regardless of what’s going on. He does a great job of always staying positive and trusting in our guys and trusting in each and every person we have and in the organization.”

There are a lot of voices around the NBA suggesting it is time for Scott Brooks to go, for a new coach to see if he can lift this team to the next level.

There is logic to the argument — the Thunder run pretty simple offensive sets, ones that rely heavily on the creativity of Westbrook and Durant, but that leave the other players without as much of a defined role. The role players on this team sometimes play their role, sometimes, step up, but their definition of what to do is more nebulous.

One of the keys to San Antonio’s success, to making their depth work is Gregg Popovich clearly defines everyone’s role. Everyone. Including Tim Duncan. But when Marco Belinelli arrives at training camp he isn’t wondering “where do I fit in” he is told exactly how that is going to happen. Phil Jackson used a different methodology — he suggested and guided, then let the players come to their own realizations that what he wanted was best — but he got to the same place. His role players understood and bought into exactly what they were supposed to do.

Do we see that with the Thunder?

All that said, what Brooks does do is build strong relationships with his players — they play hard for him. They respect him. They want to win for him. That matters.

There are questions for the Thunder to answer here:

Do you let go of a coach who got you to the Eastern Conference Finals that your two cornerstone, superstar players want back?

Maybe more importantly in a small market, do you fire a coach you will still need to pay at leaf $8 million total to over the next two seasons anyway? To bring in a name coach who is going to command a large salary?

My hunch is that Sam Presti answers those questions no.

The Thunder realize they have a window that is still open for years to come. The only real clock is Durant’s 2016 free agency (and Westbrook a year later) and there may be no superstar since Duncan more loyal and built to play in a smaller market than KD. They will not be rushed.

The Thunder are close — they were one of the three best teams in the NBA this season, they were contenders. Consistency matters in these situations when trying to take that last step, you only make big changes when you have to and know there is a sure thing upgrade. We’ll see how it plays out, but I don’t see the Thunder organization thinking change is the answer.

  1. icanhazblogs - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Wow, he got the Thunder to the Eastern Conference Finals? I mean sometimes the typos and mistakes on this blog are so egregious that I think it’s intentional…..


    • onereasonableman - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Great point! I will bet that they also wouldn’t have to pay a proof reader “at leaf” 8 million.

  2. hwatt - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    of course westbrook sticks up for the guy who lets him do whatever he wants. how about we poll the rest of the team, the role player veterans that don’t get the rock…

    • yesser12 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Oh shut up, they would have been out 1st round without Russ.

      • hwatt - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        we’re talking about better utilizing Russ and everyone else, not getting rid of them.

      • kinggw - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Who is there to better utilize? The Thunder are top heavy. After Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka there is a huge dropoff in talent. Guys like Fisher, Lamb, and Butler struggle to create their own shot, only Jackson can create his own shot. The Thunder have some good pieces, but maybe it’s time to acknowledge their roster has lots of holes, starting with a legitimate post presence.

      • gpatrick15 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:05 PM

        Guys like Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb played well when asked to, but once the mainstays returned to the court they were buried on the bench until someone else got hurt. Reggie Jackson all but forced Scott Brooks hand with his play. The Thunder has plenty of talent, but Brooks has shown reluctance in playing anyone but his established veterans.

      • enigma2742 - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:40 PM


  3. opinevain - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    I think sometimes when you’re typing fast and trying to get a story out for US to read, errors ensue. I for one knows what context is being parlayed. This is a blog

  4. aboogy123456 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    So apparently Durant likes Brooks because he’s part of the team, and Westbrook likes Brooks because he sticks up for him no matter what. I don’t think these are good reasons to keep a coach, they don’t need a friend they need someone to make them play better.

    • yesser12 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      This is true but most of the coaches that would replace Brooks are not excatly wowing. George Karl is good but he is the Marty Schottenhemier of the NBA. Hollins, McMillian, etc meh.

      • spursareold - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        Marty Schottenheimer’s offenses were the cure for insomnia. The same cannot be said for GK’s teams.

  5. azarkhan - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    To all the Westbrook haters, maybe your beloved Kevin Durant should try and develop a post up game over the summer? I didn’t see him post up and call for the ball one time in game 6, and this despite being covered by smaller Spur guards.

    • fm31970 - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Who’s he going to post up? 99% of the players in the NBA are bulkier and stronger than him. Yes, he could post up shorter small forwards, but even then, if they are stronger/bulkier than KD, he’s at a disadvnatage with his back to the basket.

      KD is not a post up player, plain and simple.

  6. themanchine - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Just bring in D’Antoni as OC

  7. ebrownwareagle - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    “IF” Russ can learn to make BETTER Decision On the Offensive end of the court; AND I Will SAY IT. He MIGHT BE the Best Player on the TEAM. People Get caught up Offense or Scoring alone. But when you can Play D and Score at a high rate. You are a special talent. Russ might not ever be able to Hoot like Durant. That’s not even to be questioned. But ALL around Game. Russ might be that dude. And he has that DOGG in him that KD lacks. And Durant MOMMA said that.

    • gpatrick15 - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      You’d make a great PBT blogger

    • spursareold - Jun 2, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      I don;t think you “learn to make better decisions” at this stage. RW is a combo guard masquerading as a PG. He just doesn’t have the instincts or court vision for the position.

  8. cantonbound13 - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Mark Jackson would be the perfect fit for OKC.

    • spursareold - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      Please, God, have OKC bring in another coach without a clue.

  9. golfrangeman - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    The overtime loss to me really sums up OKC. Super talent but they get to predictable. Westbrook and KD 1 for 10. Don’t get me wrong I think their great players but the fact that they took 10 shots tells me they don’t trust their teammates down the stretch. Your just not going to win championships without the whole team being involved.

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