In Monday’s editions of The Oklahoman I reported that Scott Brooks is likely to become the Thunder’s full-time coach.
Unfortunately, space constraints in the paper didn’t allow me to get into much reaction from the players, many of whom support that imminent decision.
“Honestly, in my personal opinion, I think he deserves it,” said Desmond Mason. “And I think he deserves it for the simple fact that he took a challenge of coming in as a first-year head coach. They brought in coach (Ron) Adams, and he opened himself up to what coach Adams had to say as it pertains to defense. Some head coaches, they may not do that. They may not appreciate another coach coming in that has knowledge in a certain area and they might not open themselves up to let them conduct practices from a defensive standpoint. He really listens to his assistants.
“But more than anything, I just think the fact that he took the challenge and he wanted to be here. For a team that was really struggling, he came in and made some adjustments and, in my personal opinion, turned around our play. And I think the future is bright. I thought that before, but now you can see the potential. I’m happy for him.”
Mason called Brooks the ultimate player’s coach, crediting him for his passion and his knowledge of the game, which stems from his 11-year playing career.
Nick Collison, reiterating his stance when P.J. Carlesimo was fired on Nov. 21, said the team didn’t quit on Carlesimo and refused to concede that the team is responding more to Brooks. Collison praised Brooks for savvy play-calling that gets the ball moving and leads to better shots and more efficient offense, but he said the Thunder’s results of late can also be attributed to improved individual performances. Still, Collison said a change was needed and Brooks could potentially be what the Thunder needs.
“I don’t know what the organization wants to do, but I think he’s definitely able to be a coach,” Collison said. “Coaching, like anything else, you get better at it over time. I think he’s probably learning on the job like all first-time coaches do. But he’s done a great job, and I think he’s got an opportunity to be a really good coach in the league.”
Jeff Green, who I did quote in my piece, told me he thinks Brooks has gotten the Thunder to the point that it can play against any team. He added, “He’s worked hard for the spot if he gets it, so my vote is behind him.”
“He was put in a tough position and he’s done the best he can,” Green said. “He’s been a great coach. He’s helped everybody out and he’s putting everybody in a good situation. It’s not up to me, but as a player he’s done a great job with this team. He turned this whole team around and we’re playing at a high level right now.”