OKC Thunder: Scott Brooks stays, at a price

Berry Tramel: New contract puts plenty of pressure on Thunder's coach.
by Berry Tramel Modified: July 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm •  Published: July 4, 2012

Brooks has been an excellent coach. In the last three years, the Thunder has the NBA's third-best collective regular-season record, a game behind the Bulls and a game ahead of the Heat. During that time, the Thunder has more playoff series victories (five) than all but the Heat (seven), Lakers (six) and Celtics (six).

That's why there was no need for the Thunder to chase Phil Jackson or one of the Van Gundys or whatever shiny coach is available.

The Thunder had its coach, and Brooks deserved a big bump from his previous salary, believed to be $2.1 million.

Presti said the bump will not impede the Thunder's arduous task of keeping its core players.

A $4.5 million salary pales compared to what it will cost to keep Harden and Ibaka, and what it already cost to secure Durant and Westbrook, and the payroll cap has nothing to do with coaches' salary.

But in a market like Oklahoma City, paying Brooks $4.5 million instead of $3.5 million means a million dollars that could have gone to helping pay the future luxury tax the Thunder might face.

In the NBA, $1 million is chump change, but everything adds up.

The Thunder walks a tightrope. The franchise had leverage on Brooks; it knew this was the job he wanted.

But the Thunder also knew it would be a tougher sell to keep Harden and Ibaka without the only NBA coach they've ever played for. And now the Thunder must ask Harden and Ibaka to sacrifice and take below-market value when their coach did not, though again, that's a theory Presti privately rejected, saying management knows the dynamics and it would not impact its potential approach to player contracts.

No one ever said winning big in the NBA was easy, on the court or off.

So now the Thunder has its coach secured. It's the coach everybody wanted. But it came at a price.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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