Scotty Brooks has come a long way and so has his team. The matchup was just too good to give up on for either party and so today it was no wonder that both Brooks and his boss Thunder GM Sam Presti were all smiles.
“It’s an exciting day for our organization and for our team,” Presti told a room full of reporters and cameras, “We’re thrilled to have Scotty with us, he’s been an integral part of what’s happening here.”
In typical Brooks fashion he started with a joke, “yeah at the start of the season Sam told me, okay it’s NBA Finals or adios!”
Then he got serious, “I’m excited that we worked it out and I knew we would, this is where I wanted to be. This is the best situation for me, I couldn’t ask for a better place to coach and to live and I’m excited about the opportunity ahead of me.”
No terms of the contract are being released by the Thunder but it’s believed the deal is for four years at roughly $18 million dollars. At an average of $4.5 million per season Brooks will earn about a million dollars more in one year coaching the Thunder than he did during his entire 11 year NBA playing career.
Presti and Brooks each recalled the long, dark days of the first season in OKC, all the losing, a 3-29 start and all the wondering if things would turn around.
“There were some long walks out of the arena where we would reflect back on the game and see if we could find one positive thing from the 48 minutes,” Presti remembered, “and to think that through that process we continued to evolve and today are able to see him continue to move us forward is really special for the organization. He’s grown into one of the top coaches in the NBA.”
“Sam and I have been together for five years and like he said we had a lot of times together where it didn’t look like we would be able to get through it, or at least I wouldn’t.”
But that 3-29 start turned into a promising finish in that first season in Oklahoma City and then came a 50-win season and a Northwest Division title and then 55-wins with another division crown and an appearance in the Western Conference Finals topped this season by the conference title and a trip to the NBA Finals.
Steady improvement all along the way and growing expectations for future successes so this is no time to start slowing down.
“You have to get better, you can’t stay in this position and not keep improving,” Brooks acknowledged. “We still have work to be done. We’re not at a point where we can rest and relax, if you do that the NBA catches up and it kicks you right in the butt.”
Presti will have a busy summer. Now that he has secured his coach he can start trying to secure a couple of high profile players.
“We obviously are gonna start having conversations with James (Harden) and Serge (Ibaka) in efforts to try to figure their situations out.”
Both players, along with backup point guard Eric Maynor are eligible for extensions and Harden and Ibaka especially could command big raises.
How much OKC’s ownership can afford and how much Harden and Ibaka will settle for will be the key questions this summer.
SCOTT BROOKS AND SAM PRESTI
Randy Renner has covered Oklahoma sports for more than 30 years and contributes to NBA.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Randy1340OKC.