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How the Thunder's Scott Brooks maintains job security

Head coach knows you have to stay on good terms with your boss. And in OKC, that means Sam Presti
by Jenni Carlson Modified: June 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm •  Published: June 25, 2013

“The good thing about it with Sam and I, we communicate and we understand what works,” he said. “We work well together.”

That's where Del Negro, Karl and Hollins messed up. They didn't work well with the people who they needed to.

In Los Angeles, Del Negro didn't have a problem with the Clippers' front office. His problem was with the star point guard.

And right now, Chris Paul is calling the shots in that franchise. He is a free agent who could go anywhere, and numerous media outlets have reported that he wasn't a big fan of Del Negro's and that he wanted to play for a different coach. Paul could've left if Del Negro stayed.

The Clippers decided having Paul was more important than having Del Negro.

Paul has since disputed that he had any say-so in Del Negro's fate, but do you think Del Negro would be out if Paul wanted him to stay?

Me neither.

Player support wasn't a problem for Karl or Hollins. They got crossways with their front offices.

Karl talked to Denver Post beat writer (and all-around good guy) Benjamin Hochman the week after he was fired. The coach said that after the trade deadline, he felt distance growing between him and the front office. He was on one side, general manager Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke were on the other.

After the season, Ujiri left for Toronto, and when Karl asked the team about extending his contract beyond next season, Kroenke decided he wanted to start fresh.

It was a similar story in Memphis.

Hollins had a long and successful track record with the Grizzlies. But ownership changed a year ago, and with it came a new philosophy built around the number-crunching analytics that have become popular around the league.

Philosophical differences with Hollins ensued, and it was no secret. Hollins, for example, openly questioned CEO Jason Levien's decision earlier this season to trade Rudy Gay to Toronto.

When negotiations began in early June to extend Hollins' contract, he insisted in several radio interviews that he was loyal to the franchise and presumably to the vision of the leadership. He pounded home that point time and again.

Levien wasn't convinced.

Hollins wasn't extended.

Del Negro, Karl and Hollins got results, but they still got canned because they had problems with the person pulling the strings. There are no signs of such strain between Scott Brooks and Sam Presti.

Right now, only Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, Erik Spoelstra in Miami and Rick Carlisle in Dallas have longer tenure with their current teams than Brooks has with the Thunder. All of those coaches have won lots of games, but that's not the only reason they still have their jobs.

They've played nice with the right people, too.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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