Home again after spending six days without a shower or a shave. I’m glad everyone had fun with the hunting stuff. It’s no secret we hunt in Oklahoma – we’re not ashamed of it. Some of us do that here. Just like millions of other people all over the rest of the country. I had a blast with the family and I can’t wait until next year.
Let’s see, Oklahoma City shocked the world and lost four more, including three of the four being by double-digits. Russell Westbrook had 11 assists against New Orleans last Saturday. The Thunder took Phoenix to the edge and lost by just one. Other than that, pretty much the same old, same old for this basketball season in the Sooner State.
What’s that? Who got what?
Of course, the week I take off to play with fire, shoot guns and grunt like Tim Taylor, the Thunder goes off and makes the biggest news of this young basketball season. And I wasn’t here to give everyone my incredibly insightful opinion. I know. I’m sorry.
Anyway, when I heard the news of P.J.’s firing, my first reaction was “Well that’s not really fair.” You give a guy apples and you expect him to make something other than applesauce. Kind of hard to turn a pair of Granny Smith’s into a full on apple pie without the crust and the filling. Probably a bad analogy. You get the point.
But as I thought about what possibly led to the guillotine, last week’s Clipper game really stood out to me. Because the cardinal sin was committed. The one thing that can get a coach capped, no questions asked, is a team quitting on him. And it was happening. Something wasn’t getting through and as I said at some point last week, it looked like this team wasn’t improving – it was regressing. Players were openly barking back at Carlesimo. Kevin Durant hollered back at Peej during the Houston game. And when you have a reputation like Carlesimo when it comes to player management (see: Sprewell, Latrell), things like that stick out like a diamond in a goat’s rear.
P.J. didn’t have players. It’s not fair to blame the pile of losses on him. But it is fair to blame him for the way some of those losses happened. All of us spent some time second guessing him. That comes with the territory and with a 1-15 start. The 30 point deficits were disturbing. But let’s be honest: It’s unlikely Sam Presti and the organization had Carlesimo in its long-term plan. He was a good guy to bring in, help facilitate the move, be a good spokesman at the forefront, say all the right things and bide his time doing the best he could.
At this point, I don’t know if I agree or disagree with it. As a casual observer a few years ago, I thought hiring Peej was a bad move. But I’ve never been a huge fan of midseason coaching moves unless something obviously warrants it. If he had lost the team, then yeah. And I’ll say this: I think management might have had concerns about losing the city. I don’t think it would have happened, but it’s hard not to grumble over a 1-15 start. It’s hard not to grumble at Carlesimo’s less-than-accessible personality – especially when OKC had a guy like Byron Scott in the past. I think Presti and Clay Bennett may have thought something needed to be done to show this city the team was still serious about competing and that this season isn’t a throwaway to get in the Blake Griffin lottery (seriously, just how ridiculous is he?).
The season presses on with Scott Brooks in the lead. Yeah, me too. Who? Scott Brooks has his chance to audition but I’d say it’s unlikely he’ll be in this same spot this time next year. The team has played a little better, but then took a big step back last night. The players seem to be a little rejuvenated and said all the right things with P.J.’s departure. Brooks does have the rock-bottom advantage – the Thunder really can’t do much worse – unless they lose to Minnesota Friday. Come on Scotty, we’re really banking on that one.