Thunder fire coach Scott Brooks after missing playoffs
Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks (right) talks with guard Dion Waiters before a game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
The Oklahoma City Thunder fired Scott Brooks as head coach on Wednesday after the team missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
The Thunder finished 45-37 after star forward Kevin Durant missed most of this season.
Florida coach Billy Donovan is expected to become a serious candidate to replace Brooks, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Durant missed the first 17 games of the season after undergoing surgery in October to repair a fracture in the foot. He underwent another procedure in March to help alleviate pain in the foot. Then Durant underwent surgery in April and is expected to be sidelined four to six months following a bone graft procedure.
Durant, who will become a free agent after next season, has spent eight seasons with the organization, winning four scoring titles and an MVP award. The 26-year-old Durant averaged 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in just 27 games this season. He has averaged 27.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his career.
Brooks’ contract was guaranteed for next season, while Oklahoma City had a team option on his deal for the 2016-17 season.
“This is an extremely difficult decision on many levels,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “Scott helped establish the identity of the Thunder and has earned his rightful place in the history of our organization through his seven years as a valued leader and team member.”
“As we all know, this past year we had unique and challenging circumstances and as I have conveyed, not many people could have accomplished what Scott and this team were able to. Therefore, it is very important to state that this decision is not a reflection of this past season, but rather an assessment of what we feel is necessary at this point in time in order to continually evolve, progress and sustain.
“We determined that, in order to stimulate progress and put ourselves in the best position next season and as we looked to the future, a transition of this kind was necessary for the program. We move forward with confidence in our foundation and embrace the persistence and responsibility that is required to construct an elite and enduring basketball organization capable of winning an NBA championship in Oklahoma City.”
Brooks was named head coach of the Thunder on April 15, 2009, after serving as interim head coach during the 2008-09 campaign. Over the course of the last seven seasons, Brooks accumulated a 338-207 (.620) record with the Thunder and was named the 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Year.
An NBA veteran of over 24 years as a head coach, assistant and player, Brooks helped guide the Thunder to three appearances in the Western Conference Finals (2011, 2012, 2014), and a trip to the 2012 NBA Finals.
“We have a deep appreciation for all that Scott has contributed to the Thunder organization over the last seven years,” said Clayton I. Bennett, Thunder chairman. “He helped us build the foundation of this team and led us to much success. While a very hard decision, I support the need to transition to a new coach that will allow us to continue the growth and progress that will help us reach all of our goals. We wish Scott and his family only the best as he moves forward.”