Boom, Clap, The Thunder Move On

Whether you consider this past Thunder season a success or not, this move was quite a shock.  Oklahoma City fired head coach Scott Brooks yesterday afternoon.  The move sent shockwaves throughout the league, and blew up Twitter.  While it wasn’t a huge surprise, I was pulling for Scott Brooks to keep his job.  I didn’t think he deserved to get fired.

In his tenure with the team, a total of seven seasons, Brooks reached the playoffs five times, including two Western Conference Finals and the 2012 NBA Finals.

It was quite a run, and after all of that success, he deserves to get fired after the one season he didn’t make the playoffs?  Coaches aren’t paid for what they’ve done in the past, as baseball players are, but Brooks had so much under his resume.  Plus, his players loved him, and with Kevin Durant’s free agency upcoming, this probably wasn’t the smartest move.

Let’s go a little bit deeper…..

Sam Presti is a good GM.  He would be considered great had he not made the Harden trade.  Presti built this roster through the draft (Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant) and through trades (most of the bench).  It worked, but their main piece happened to only play in 27 out of 82 games this past year.  While Durant can’t be blamed for the injury, it seems he came back too soon.  There was warnings.  The type of injury he had was notorious for guys coming back too soon.  Whatta you know!  He came back to early, way early, it being a month before the original date, and look at where we are.

Had Durant been healthy the whole year, this would be playoff team.  One scary playoff team.

Next year, Oklahoma City is gonna have the best roster they’ve had since they traded Harden.  Westbrook, Durant, and a great bench.  Serge Ibaka will be healthy.  Enes Kanter is a question of money, and whether OKC gives him what he wants.  If not, he’ll get overpaid some where else.

This is the main reason I disagreed with Brook’s firing.  The Thunder have huge potential next year.  This team is gonna be really good, given they stay healthy.  With KD’s free agency coming up, I would have kept everyone together, and go for the title.  And if it doesn’t work out, fire Brooks and figure out KD.  There.  Simple.

So why did they do this now?  Presti said that Brook’s firing had nothing to do with this past season.  The rest makes no sense:

“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.”  -Sam Presti, Thunder GM

What?  That makes no sense!  The best position for next year would have been to keep everyone, go all in, and hope and pray that Durant comes back.  All they did now was make Durant even more mad at the organization (dating back to, oh, the Harden trade).

In fact, everything that Presti said didn’t make sense.  He claims it had nothing to do with last season, which is understandable, but then again, OKC hadn’t missed the playoffs until this year, which gave Brooks higher standards to meet.  So maybe it did!! And, as I’ve already said, the best position for next year would have been to keep everyone.

Maybe I’m wrong, but Scott Brooks didn’t deserve to be fired yesterday.  They could have given him one more year.  And instead, they’ll have a new coach coming into one of the most important seasons in franchise history.

As for Brook’s replacement, multiple candidates have already been named.  University Of Connecticut Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie has been named as a candidate, even though he released a statement stating his intentions to stay at the school.  Ollie has been a great coach at UCONN, winning a national championship and having players like Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb come through the program.

And yes, I know you’re thinking “Wait, you didn’t cover college basketball this year!  What do you know?”  Just because I don’t write about a sport, doesn’t mean I don’t watch it.  I watched plenty of college basketball this past year.  Watch out for the first NBA Mock Draft.  

University Of Florida head coach Billy Donavan has also been linked to the OKC job, as he’s good friends with Presti.  Donavon has been another very successful college coach.  I’d love to see that happen, and my money is on him taking that job.  However, the transition could be rough, and that’s not what the Thunder need.  Perhaps they could look for someone experienced.

Scott Brooks is one of the best coaches in the league.  And he’s a free agent.  Don’t worry, he’ll have a job soon enough.  Orlando and Denver have been linked to him, and I think he’ll end up with one of those teams.  Orlando is super young team who has a bright future.  While they’ll be a project, it’s one that could payoff down the road.  That team has a ton of potential, and I think Brooks is gonna end up there.

Denver would be interesting, but that team is a mess, as they’ll be cleaning house this Summer.  They could trade EVERYONE besides Jursuf Nurkic.  The Nuggets will need someone young who’s in it for the long haul.

I don’t think Scott Brooks deserved to get fired.  The move couldn’t have came at a worse time for the Thunder.  With next season being the most important in franchise history, this wasn’t the right time to shake things up.


On the Hawks sale…..

Yet another bomb was dropped yesterday in the NBA world, just minutes after Scott Brooks was let go.  The Atlanta Hawks, who are cruising their way through the Nets right now (more on that later) were sold to billionaire Tony Ressler, Sara Blakely (Spanx founder) and her husband, and Grant Hill.

That’s quite a group.  Hill had been in on the Kings with Ressler last summer, and now they got their team.  The price was way below what I had imagined, selling for $850 million.  I thought for sure it would top $1 billion, just because of their sudden rise this year.  Atlanta is also a big market, and I thought that would have a big impact.  With the Clippers selling for $2 billion last summer, I also thought that would set a new standard.  While I knew the Hawks wouldn’t hit $1.5 billion, I thought it would it exceed one billion.

It’s interesting to say the least, and their current playoff opponent is gonna be the next team sold.  That should be one hefty price.


Playoff Quick Hits:

Gonna run through every series….

  • So, Hawks-Nets is not fun, even though it was quite close last night.  Brooklyn has no brain when it comes to shot selection, and the Hawks are totally taking advantage.  The Nets have no way to defend their team ball.
  • The Celtics, even being down 2-0, have gave Cleveland is little bit of a run for their money.  They’ve started super fast while the Cavaliers have started slow, making it close in the second quarter.  Cleveland turns it on in the second half though, leaving Boston without a chance.  Still, it’s fun to see Boston be pesky.
  • Derrick Rose has played great for the Bulls against the Bucks.  It’s why they’re up 2-0.  Milwaukee is struggling to defend the Bulls, as they don’t have big enough guys.  Turns out the Bucks wing guys have not played well this series, as it seems The Greek Freak might be a little nervous.  I hate saying that, but the offense of the Bucks hasn’t been moving well, and it’s due to the poor shooting.
  • Wizards-Raptors has been hilariously bad and entertaining.  In Game 1, Toronto played terrible on offense and yet somehow got the game to OT.  In Game 2, it was the same problem for Toronto.  They have no shooting and the offense is discombobulated.  Paul Pierce has carried the Wizards, but has lately gotten help from Bradley Beal.  Beal has been great since returning, and it’s helping the Wizards pull off the upset.
  • The Warriors are up 2-0 on the Pelicans, yet, it hasn’t been super pretty.  In Game 1, the Warriors had a huge lead and later blew it, leading to a pretty wild final three minutes.  Anthony Davis has proven to be a matchup problem for the Dubs, but Golden State has answered due to New Orleans’ injuries.  The Pelicans backcourt is no match for the Splash Brothers.  However, I still believe the Pelicans will get a win in this series, and if they do, it’ll come from a Brow quadruple-double.  You heard it here.
  • The biggest story of out Houston-Dallas is the Mavericks’ injuries and the Rajon Rondo situation.  He didn’t play the whole second half in Game 2, and now is being ruled out indefinitely due to a back injury.  Then, just yesterday, Rick Carlisle comes out and says he doesn’t expect Rondo to ever play in a Mavericks uniform again.  And yeah, they still have at least two games left.  The whole thing is a cluster, and it’s amazing how screwed up Dallas is.  They haven’t been able to guard JOSH SMITH.  YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO GUARD JOSH SMITH.  He played amazing in Game 2, and dropped a ton of dimes to Dwight Howard.  Dallas hasn’t been able to guard the paint, which leads them to be down 2-0.  I honestly don’t think they’re winning a game in this series.  That team is a mess.  So much for Rockets in six.
  • It’s amazing that Spurs-Clippers is a first round series.  It’s the only series in the league that’s tied at one (so much for a fun playoffs).  Both games have been pretty good, with last night being a classic.  In the OT matchup in Game 2, the Spurs tied the series after out-pacing the Clippers.  I think the Spurs found their stuff, and I’m not totally sure the Clippers are winning again (hint hint).  In Game 1 though, the Clippers played much better, and had their starts play well, as San Antonio’s didn’t.  Also, shot selection isn’t great from Los Angeles so far.  Keep an eye on that.
  • In the final series, the Grizzlies have bullied the Trail Blazers.  Portland has no one to guard Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low.  That’s the main issue.  In an unlikely turn, Memphis has shot super well from outside as Portland has gone cold.  However, I’m still sticking with my pick.  While Damian Lillard hasn’t played well, I think he’ll snap out of it.  He’ll go off one night, and will give Portland at least one win.

So much for Quick Hits…….