The Thunder has a wildly successful coach and doesn't need a new one.
Bill Self has a highly coveted job and no reason to leave it.
But as Self approaches his second Final Four and perhaps his second NCAA championship with the Kansas Jayhawks, and the Thunder hits the home stretch as one of the four favorites for the NBA title, it's not crazy to think that some day Self indeed could come home to coach.
Not to OSU. To the Thunder.
I don't know when the Thunder will need a new coach. Scotty Brooks has done a phenomenal job and could be the next Jerry Sloan, for all I know.
And I don't know who the next coach will be. But the best bet, whenever the time comes, be it five years or 10, is Self.
The ties are too strong not to at least consider that Self might one day coach the Thunder.
Grew up in Edmond. Played at Oklahoma State, where he also coached on Eddie Sutton's staff. Was head coach at Oral Roberts and Tulsa U. Was tempted to come back to OSU four years ago, after winning the NCAA title and being offered a blank check by Mike Holder.
But there are Thunder ties, too. Self went to OSU and became lifelong friends with R.C. Buford, now the Spurs' general manager. And you know what that means; the Thunder operates out of the San Antonio manual.
Thunder GM Sam Presti came from the Spurs, an apprentice of Buford and president/coach Gregg Popovich. Of course, you could argue that means Self will be the next coach of the Spurs, and that's not thin ice, either.
But the Thunder/Self ties go beyond geography and the Spurs. Presti's fiancé once was Self's administrative assistant at KU. Presti knows all about Self.
Self long has expressed “intrigue” with the NBA, though last May he told Kansas City's 610 Sports Radio that he still sees himself “as a college guy,”
Self's theories then were solid. Kansas is better than two-thirds of the NBA jobs. College coaches rarely succeed in the NBA, because they often take over dismal situations to start with.
But taking over the Presti-run Thunder or the Buford-run Spurs is different business. No telling if the Thunder's runaway success goes beyond the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook era, or if the Spurs will keep winning big when Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are gone.
But don't count against it. Quality management trumps lottery luck in the NBA. Knowing how to run a consistently competitive franchise is the hallmark of the Spurs and the stated aim of the Thunder, a goal that seems to be more and more obtainable.
How would Self fare in the NBA? I say well. Jeff van Gundy says the No. 1 priority for an NBA coach is to maintain a solid relationship with the franchise star. Self maintains a solid relationship with virtually everyone on the planet; it's one of his gifts.
Self is 49, still young by coaching standards. He's reached the pinnacle of his profession. A new challenge could entice him to come home. Or at least head to San Antonio.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.