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Thunder enters delicate negotiations with coach Scott Brooks

COMMENTARY - The Thunder wants Brooks and Brooks wants the Thunder. The only questions are how much and who can effectively use their leverage?
by Berry Tramel Published: June 22, 2012

MIAMI, Fla. — Scotty Brooks has a contract with the Thunder. For the next eight days.

Then he's a free agent. Then the Everyman who has guided the Thunder from the dredges of the NBA to within sight of the summit is on the open market.

Hard to believe. Hard to imagine the Thunder without Foreman Scotty, even though if we scrape the crust off our memory, we can recall the dark days of November 2008, when P.J. Carlesimo coached the Boomers to a 1-12 record and was fired in the two hours between the end of a game and the takeoff of a team charter.

Brooks has been a staple ever since. Been the head coach longer than every player has been on the Thunder roster with the exception of Kevin Durant, Nick Collison and, by 13 games, Russell Westbrook.

Hard to imagine Thunderville without Brooks, and I don't think we'll have to experience it.

The Thunder wants Brooks. Brooks wants to coach the Thunder. And while contract talks have gained little traction, that will change for two reasons.

1. With the season now past, the contract can become a priority for both sides. The primary priority.

“As we have said consistently, Scott is an integral part of the Thunder, and his contributions have been critical to the success and growth of our players and team,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti.

“We have great respect for Scott and are confident he is the right person for the Thunder. We are hopeful he will be the coach of the Thunder for years to come.”

2. With that said, the Thunder has most of the leverage.

There are more good coaches out there than good NBA jobs.

Various reports say the Thunder has offered just north or south of $4 million a season, for three years, but that Brooks wants a four-year contract.

You can't blame Brooks for trying to strike. This side of an NBA championship, his stock never will be higher.

Year One, obvious improvement from a staggering team. Year Two, amazing improvement to 50 wins, playing the regal Lakers tough in the playoffs and a coach of the year award. Year Three, 55 wins and the Western Conference Finals. Year Four, NBA favorite after a rally from two games down against San Antonio in the West Finals.

So Brooks has plenty of ammunition, plus this.

The players love him. If you saw the outpouring of emotion after the Thunder beat the Spurs in Game 6, with Westbrook and Co. imploring the crowd to shower Brooks with love, you know the level of connection with Brooks and his players.

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by Berry Tramel
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 Oklahoman,...
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