MAITLAND, Fla. — To say circumstances have changed for Thunder coach Scott Brooks from last summer to this one would be a mild understatement. For starters, at this year’s Orlando Pro Summer League, his seats aren’t as good.
Of course, sitting huddled with general manager Sam Presti while monitoring the action a few rows behind the Thunder bench isn’t a bad place to be. Brooks was an assistant coach with Oklahoma City this time last year, though he was the head man for last year’s NBA summer event. P.J. Carlesimo, then the Thunder’s head coach, was the guy sitting in the stands with Presti. About four months later, Brooks was named interim head coach after Carlesimo was fired. Brooks did a good enough job with the young, inexperienced Thunder the rest of the season that the interim tag was changed to full time. As he has all week, Brooks joined Presti in survey mode for Oklahoma City’s 83-62 win over the Nets/76ers split squad Thursday. Brooks will continue in the same capacity as the Thunder participates in the Las Vegas Summer League, beginning Sunday. "It’s an odd feeling because I like to get involved, but you try to do that from a distance,” said Brooks, interim head coach for 22 of last season’s 23 victories. "You want to give our assistant coaches all the respect, give them time to develop our guys, get continuity into the program. I think it’s a great opportunity.” It’s one Brooks is familiar with. A veteran assistant with stints in Sacramento and Denver before arriving in Seattle, he had the luxury of working with the entire roster before replacing Carlesimo. In terms of communication and building relationships, that’s invaluable. "You establish your relationship with them and trust with them,” Brooks said. "Those guys are great kids. If you’re fair to them and you know what you’re talking about, they’re going to trust you, whether you just come in as a head coach and not being an assistant. Fortunately for me, I’ve been with them going on three seasons now. I understand where they’re coming from, what gets them going.