So much focus is placed on a coach's X's-and-O's strategy that his impact on player development often is overshadowed.
Two months before Thunder general manager Sam Presti begins negotiations on contract extensions with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, Presti showed the organization's commitment to keeping the core together Tuesday by picking up the third-year option on coach Scott Brooks.
Earning more than $1.5 million a season, Brooks is signed through the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
“We expect our players to come back better,” Presti said. “Scott will do an excellent job overseeing that. He's a hands-on guy when it comes to development. That's one of his greatest strengths.”
Like last summer, Brooks will spend part of the next four months flying around the country to meet with Thunder players. On Saturday, he stressed that the 2010-11 season already is under way.
“There was a tremendous amount of growth this past year based on the guys' commitment to get better,” Brooks said. “Like I told them (Friday) night and the last day last season, this is the start of a new season. It's time to move forward. It's time to get better going into next year.
“We can't just hang around and expect to get better. We have to put the time and work and energy into getting better just like last summer. It was a big summer for us. We'll spend a lot of time (this summer) to improve in many areas.”
Throughout the summer, players occasionally stop in Oklahoma City. Sometimes they organize a summer reunion, hooking up with Durant and Green in Washington or flying to California to hang out with Russell Westbrook.
“One thing I believe in is working together,” Brooks said. “I don't have all the answers, nor do they. We need to find the answers together. They understand it's important to get better this time of year and not just say, ‘See you back here in October.