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New Contract Puts Pressure On Brooks

by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 2, 2012
Scott Brooks is coming back to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team ended days of speculation Monday night with a release announcing Brooks has signed a multi-year contract extension. A press conference has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday to talk about the deal, which is believed to be for four years and more than $16 million. "Continuing with Scott as our head coach is extremely significant for the future of our organization," said Thunder GM Sam Presti. "As we have continually communicated, he has been integral to our success and we have a deep appreciation for his tireless dedication to our players' development. His experiences and core values are invaluable to our players as they continue to grow and improve and we are thrilled to continue our partnership." Led by Brooks, the Thunder's 152 victories over the past three seasons are the second most in the NBA. Since taking over for P.J. Carlesimo 13 games into the 2008-09 season, Brooks has compiled a 174-125 record, a 58.2 percent winning percentage. Brooks also is 24-19 in the playoffs. "I would like to thank Clay Bennett and Sam Presti for the opportunity to continue with the Thunder," said Brooks, the 2010 Coach of the Year. "Oklahoma City is a special place, and I'm eager to build upon the foundation and culture of this franchise for years to come. Remember this day. Today marks the day Brooks entered the big leagues. Brooks' salary now ranks him among the top third of NBA coaches. That means playtime is over. The cute, cuddly and cushy job that the Thunder head coach once enjoyed is gone. The pressure is now on, both externally and internally, to produce. There always were expectations attached to Brooks' gig, of course. But before today, those in-house demands were more about basic coaching duties. They centered on simply making progress and "getting better every day" as part of the organization's proverbial "process." Brooks also was charged with helping to develop the Thunder's immensely talented young roster, a task in which he's succeeded at brilliantly. But everything changes from here. The stakes are rising and the responsibilities are increasing. Now, the Thunder is a championship-ready team. Oklahoma City's players have grown up and now know what it takes to get to the NBA Finals. Many of Brooks' obligations will remain the same. But his performance will now be scrutinized more than ever. Everything from his substitution pattern to his play-calling will be analyzed and, ultimately, judged while a pointed question hangs over his head: is he the right man for the job? That's life as an up-and-coming coach. It's what Miami coach Erik Spoelstra went through all season before silencing his peanut gallery with a masterful Finals performance. The only way Brooks can rise above the questions and quell the criticism is to continue to show improvement. But don't confuse Brooks' improvement with team wins. Those things are not one in the same. Brooks has been blessed with the league's most talented roster. Some already are under the impression that it's the players who are carrying Brooks as opposed to the coach putting the players in a position to succeed. Quite frankly, it's a classic chicken-or-egg riddle for which the front office might not even have the answer. How else can you explain Presti's original hard-line stance? Perhaps the initial three-year deal Presti reportedly offered was nothing more than a negotiating tactic. Or maybe it was a tell-tale sign of exactly where the organization's belief in Brooks lies as the right man for the job going forward. In the end, Brooks appeared to win the bidding war. As a result, all eyes will now be squarely on him as the head man in OKC. -DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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