By Darnell Mayberry
The Oklahoma City Thunder has fired coached P.J. Carlesimo, according to multiple league sources.
It’s unclear who will replace Carlesimo on the bench on a permanent basis, but assistant coach Scott Brooks is believed to have been named the interim coach and will take the helm immediately with Saturday night’s game at New Orleans.
Carlesimo guided last year’s Seattle SuperSonics to a franchise-worst 20-62 record in his first season with the team in 2007-08. The Thunder is a league-worst 1-12 three weeks into the season after losing its 10th straight game Friday night against the Hornets. The 25-point defeat to the Hornets served as the final straw to what’s been a horrific start to the Thunder’s inaugural season in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder has lost by an average of 14 points during its current losing streak, and front office executives became increasingly incensed with the team’s lack of effort. Oklahoma City has trailed by at least 30 points in five of the past nine games.
The Thunder’s lone win was a three-point victory on Nov. 2 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are third-to-last in the Western Conference with a 2-9 record.
After showing signs of defensive improvement over last season in the first six games, the Thunder allowed 100 points or more in the past seven games. The team is ranked 25th in points allowed with a 101.2-point average and 29th in the league in scoring at 88.9 points per game.
The Thunder also ranks last in field-goal percentage (40.4 percent) and turnovers (17 per game).
Thunder general manager Sam Presti was non-committal on Carlesimo’s future following the end of last year’s tumultuous season, leading many to wonder how long the coach would be around in spite of the team’s rebuilding efforts.
Brooks, meanwhile, is one of the league’s up-and-coming assistant coaches and could be named the full-time coach.
A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, Brooks averaged 4.9 points, 2.4 assists and 1.0 rebounds over an 11-year career from 1988-99 with Philadelphia, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, New York and Cleveland.
Brooks was an assistant with the Sacramento Kings in 2006-07 before joining Carlesimo’s staff a year later. He began his coaching career with the Denver Nuggets as an assistant from 2003-06.