In an odd twist of role reversal, P.J. Carlesimo and Scott Brooks will reunite at Chesapeake Energy Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Carlesimo coached the first 13 games of the Thunder's history before being replaced on an interim basis by Brooks.
Now it's Carlesimo who wears the interim tag as the man in charge of the Brooklyn Nets after they fired coach Avery Johnson last Thursday.
Carlesimo won his first two games after replacing Johnson, but the Nets (16-15) got blown out 104-73 at San Antonio on Monday night while getting outscored 30-5 in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, OKC (24-6) has won 12 straight at The Peake, where it is 16-2 this season.
Thunder fans barely got to know Carlesimo, who went 20-62 in the Seattle SuperSonics' final season (2007-08). That was followed by a 1-12 start to the franchise's inaugural campaign in OKC.
Brooks got off to the exact same start, going 1-12 after replacing Carlesimo and slipping to 2-17 before closing out the season with a far more respectable 20-30 mark. When the Thunder went 50-32 the following season, Brooks was named 2010 NBA Coach of the Year.
Since having the interim title removed after the 2008-09 season, Brooks owns a 176-84 (.677) record. Only San Antonio's Gregg Popovich at 186-77 (.707) has a better record in that same span.
After leaving OKC, the 63-year-old Carlesimo served as a pro and college television analyst in 2009-10, was a Toronto Raptors assistant for one season and joined the Nets' staff prior to the 2011-12 season.
In 2007, new general manager Sam Presti interviewed both Carlesimo and Brooks for the Seattle SuperSonics' head coaching job. Presti hired Carlesimo, who eventually hired Brooks as an assistant.
“I really appreciate what P.J. did for me, gave me an opportunity to work under him,” Brooks said. “He's a very good man. It was a great experience. I wish him success. I have nothing but good things to say about him. He's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around and he's done it at a lot of different levels — high school, college and the NBA.”
Carlesimo coached Kevin Durant in 2007-08, when he averaged 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and was voted NBA Rookie of the Year.
“He just demanded so much out of me since the beginning,” Durant said of Carlesimo. “He didn't treat me like a rookie my first year. When I messed up, he got on me. When I did well, he told me I did well. So he was just a great motivator for me and got me better because I wanted to live up to his standards. He's the reason why I've progressed as a player.
“He's a great coach, man. He's a great motivator. He's a player's coach, so I'm sure those guys (the Nets) are playing hard for him.”
Only three players remain from the OKC roster that was in place when Carlesimo was fired on Nov. 21, 2008 — Durant, rookie point guard Russell Westbrook and veteran forward Nick Collison. Forward Serge Ibaka was selected 24th in the 2008 NBA Draft, but played pro ball in Spain that season.
“I think Scotty's done not a good job, I think he's done an incredible job,” Carlesimo told The New York Times following the Nets' practice in San Antonio on Tuesday. “Is that a good roster? Yeah, it's a very good roster. But Scotty and that staff has done an excellent job with it to get it to where it is, in a very short period of time. You don't usually get there that quick.”
Carlesimo said the additions of guard Thabo Sefolosha in 2009 and center Kendrick Perkins in 2011 gave the Thunder a much-needed defensive presence.
“I still go back to Thabo and Perk was a huge change, all of a sudden,” Carlesimo said. “It gave them a physical presence up front and it gave them a wing defender. And ever since then, it's tweak this, that, make different moves.”
Carlesimo then redirected himself back to Durant, who has since become the league's three-time scoring champ.
“But it all starts with the one that they got, the guy that's one of the best, what, two or three players on the planet, and is going to be for a long time, and is a great kid on top of that,” Carlesimo said of Durant. “Oklahoma City is gonna be good for a long time, and Scotty has a ton to do with that. But KD is special.”
Thunder vs. Nets
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 447, U-Verse 754/HD 1754).
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* Brooklyn fired coach Avery Johnson on Dec. 27 after a 14-14 start. The Nets promoted lead assistant and former Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo to interim head coach, and he's 2-1 since taking over.
* This is the second and final meeting this season between Oklahoma City and Brooklyn. The Thunder won the first meeting, 117-111, on Dec. 4 at Brooklyn.
* Kevin Durant averaged 31 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals and one block in December. He shot 51.6 percent for the field, 41.7 percent from behind the 3-point line and 92.1 percent from the foul line.