Thunder pick up option to keep Brooks
Engineering the biggest turnaround in the NBA this season has earned Scott Brooks another year in charge of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder exercised a team option on Brooks' contract Tuesday that will allow the NBA's coach of the year to remain in Oklahoma City through 2012. Brooks had been under contract through the end of next season, but general manager Sam Presti said he wanted to give players an extra year to benefit from Brooks' "consistent focus on their development, selfless approach to his work, and commitment to our organizational vision.''
Terms were not disclosed.
"Obviously, Scott did an excellent job and deserved a lot of credit for continuing to focus and build on the things that we think are important to building a basketball team that can have not just short-term success but also lasting success,'' Presti said Tuesday.
"Defensively, we've taken strides and improved. I think we've started to create an identity for ourselves as a team that's going to play hard consistently night in and night out in an environment also that will see our guys stick together through tough stuff, or tough breaks.''
Brooks took over the team over on an interim basis in November 2008 after P.J. Carlesimo was fired following a 1-12 start. In his first full season as an NBA head coach, Oklahoma City improved its win total from 23 to 50 and made the franchise's first playoff appearance in five years before losing to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
"Spending time with our guys, it gets me excited about coming to the gym every day,'' Brooks said. "I love being in the gym. I loved it as a player and I love it as a coach and being around 15 guys, knowing that that's how they think, that's a good feeling going into the summer knowing that I have a group of guys that want to get better, that want to improve.''
When Brooks took over, the Thunder was one of the NBA's worst teams on offense and defense - scoring just 88.9 points per game while allowing 101.2 — and losing games by an average of 12.3 points.
He focused on improving Oklahoma City's defense, and the Thunder finished this season as the top team in the league in blocks and tied for sixth in field-goal percentage defense.
"We committed to the defensive end, and we accomplished it,'' Brooks said. "Now we still have to stay focused and still have to improve on that.''
Before coaching, Brooks played 11 seasons in the NBA primarily as a reserve and won a championship in 1994 as a member of the Houston Rockets. He was an assistant for Denver and Sacramento before interviewing to become the head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, who would eventually move to Oklahoma City and change their name under new ownership. He was hired as an assistant under Carlesimo before getting his chance at the helm.
"I think it comes from maybe the way he was as a player, and he had to scrap and work extremely hard for what he got, but he makes sure that our practices are like that, and that is the No. 1 key for our improvement, I think,'' forward Nick Collison said.
"Every day, we came in here and we got better and if we had a loss, we corrected it quickly and we were able to keep building and we kind of did it every day. He deserves a lot of credit for that.''