Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Saturday that he anticipates his contract negotiations with Thunder management to pick up in the coming days.
“I'm sure in the next couple of days we'll sit down and get together,” said Brooks, whose contract expires June 30.
Since taking over early in the 2008-09 season, the Thunder has gradually improved under Brooks. He led the Thunder to a 50-win season in 2009-10, earning Coach of the Year honors; 55 wins and a trip to the Western Conference Finals last year and a 47-win season in a lockout-shortened campaign this year. The Thunder's season ended with a trip to the NBA Finals, where Oklahoma City lost in five games to Miami.
“Definitely, I wish I was preparing or just finishing up practice going into Game 6,” Brooks said. “You definitely need a few days just to reflect on what we've done this year. But the next couple of days, we plan on getting together.”
Brooks continues to have the support of his players, none of whom expressed any doubt that Brooks will be back.
“If I turn on ESPN and I see he's signed somewhere else, yeah, I'll be real concerned,” said Nick Collison. “But for now, until he either signs and comes back or something happens, we don't worry about it a lot.”
Said Russell Westbrook: “Since I've been here we've gotten better each and every year. He's learning right along with us. We're all learning to get better and become better. Hopefully we can have everybody back and come back and try to do the same thing.”
HARDEN PUTTING FINALS PERFORMANCE BEHIND HIM
One of the most mystifying aspects of the Thunder's trip to the NBA Finals was the play of guard James Harden.
The team's sixth man averaged just 12.4 points on 37.5 percent shooting.
In his last interview of the season Saturday, Harden couldn't point to a singular reason for his struggles but said his offensive game just sort of snowballed the entire series.
“It's tough,” Harden said. “Shots didn't fall. The shots that felt good, that usually go in, didn't go in. They were hitting back rim or rimming in and out. It starts to take a toll on you. You start to think about it a little bit.”
Harden admitted that the mounting misses started to negatively affect his confidence. But he said he will use his first Finals as a learning lesson.
“I can do other things on the court, not just shoot the ball but find other ways to impact the game,” Harden said. “I think that's one of the things I'll have to come in with next season. If I'm not making shots in one game in particular, find another way to impact the game. That's something I have to think about this summer.”
PERKINS PLAYED THROUGH PARTIAL GROIN TEAR
Brooks acknowledged Saturday that center Kendrick Perkins was playing with a partially torn groin in the later parts of the playoffs.
Perkins was excused from Saturday's exit interviews because of illness, but Brooks said his center showed toughness by battling through the injury.
“Most players might have shut it down and called it a season, but he fought,” Brooks said. “We wouldn't put our players in a position that would endanger their career, but he was able to play through a lot of pain.”
MOHAMMED MIGHT NOT BE BACK
Reserve center Nazr Mohammed, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, expressed his desire to return to the Thunder next season, saying he “would love to be back” and is “hoping to be back.”
But with rising third-year center Cole Aldrich waiting in the wings, there doesn't appear to be room on the roster any longer for Mohammed, who will turn 35 in September and, under league rules, must be paid at least the veteran's minimum of $1.35 million.
“If I was in his position, I'd want to get on the court,” Mohammed said of Aldrich. “I feel that that's the next progression. You've got to give him a chance and see what you've got. That's the way the game is. If you've got the choice of investing in a guy 14 years in the game or a guy in his third year, you've got to go with the guy in his third year and see what he's got.”
Nick Collison on the offseason: “It's a lot shorter. It's almost July, which is crazy. We used to be done in mid-April. I mean, it's like a really different feel.”