Taking one quick look at the 2011-12 season of the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’d be easy to assume a tight-knit locker room and a front office proud of everyone involved in the positive direction the team took in year four under head coach Scott Brooks. The team won the Western Conference, showed incredible toughness in the NBA Playoffs and showed how dynamic they will be for years to come.
Instead, as Brooks entered his contract year, Sam Presti and company were eerily silent on bringing back Brooks as their head coach. While they would say the right quotes from time to time when pressed about the subject, the team’s actions would have done the loudest talking. When it came down to it, Brooks even officially became a free agent coach for a few minutes when the clock struck midnight on Sunday.
Of course, the team reached the deal in the end that Presti said would happen and it will all become water under the bridge soon enough. But there’s no denying that there was a bit of drama going on with some smoke leading to rumors about Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy replacing him. While those might have been over-the-top, it’s at least a sign that the process of re-signing on both sides wasn’t just a quick nod and smile.
As Brooks signed the four year agreement he just reached, his agent Warren LeGarie had some interesting words.
"Anything worthwhile in life sometimes you have to go through some difficult moments and ultimately realize it’s something you want," LeGarie told Sports Illustrated. "You have to realize that, ultimately, this is something that’s very important to me and I think that’s what Scott decided. Clearly he feels that whatever went on was worth it to him because he ultimately is where he wanted to be."
In the end, this will be a non-issue as the team is clearly going to win with anyone at the helm. Brooks also has a complete postseason of experience to pull from now and a roster that’s continually developing, maturing and gaining new assets like Perry Jones in the draft. Still it’s interesting to find there were bumps in the road to get here.