Report: Scott Brooks May Not Be Coaching The Oklahoma City Thunder Next Year

We can probably file this under the Kevin Durant 2016 free agency freak out, but league sources close to Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks informed Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski they have “doubts about his job security.”

Brooks has a guaranteed contract for the 2015-16 season, and a team option for 2016-17, but GM Sam Presti is prepping for Durant’s final year before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July of 2016. Brooks might not be a part of that plan, especially if Presti determines he’s not the coach to take them to the top of the mountain when they’re at full health. The last time they were, 2012, they fell to the Heat in the Finals 4-1.

The Thunder finished with a 45-37 record this season while missing KD for most of the year, and Russell Westbrook for the first month. Losing Serge Ibaka down the home stretch certainly didn’t help matters, especially considering February trade deadline pick-up of Enes Kanter and his inability to defend much of anything in the paint.

According to Wojnarowski’s league sources, if a change does come, University of Florida coach Billy Donovan would be the most serious candidate to replace Brooks. Presti is a long-time friend of the Florida helmsman, and Donovan has recently made public made his desire to coach at the next level.

Woj also notes that when Brooks signed a four-year extension two years ago, “Brooks’ representative had a difficult negotiation process…and several teams with openings, including Portland, were interested in hiring Brooks.”

If Brooks were let go this summer, league sources say the Magic and Nuggets would have “significant interest in hiring him.”

In seven NBA seasons coaching the Thunder, Brooks has a 545-338 career record, leading the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals and winning coach of the year in 2010. Before last season (when Russ missed time), and this year’s injury-ravaged campaign, the Thunder had improved their winning percentage in each successive season Brooks was in control on the sideline. They only took a slight dip between the 2013 and the 2014 seasons (.732 to .720 — or one less win).

Brooks has also cultivated a cozy relationship with his players and Thunder management during his time on the sidelines, but he has his detractors. The former NBA journeyman guard is not a wildly creative offensive play-caller, which has hurt the Thunder in the playoffs; Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have had to shoulder most of the load against tenacious playoff defenses keyed to primarily stop them. This was especially evident in the Western Conference Finals last year against the Spurs, when Gregg Popovich’s adjustments overcame the narrow, two-man brilliance of Russ and KD.

Some believe Brooks has squandered OKC’s title chances by relying too much on simple isolation, pick-and-roll, or pick-and-pop sets with KD or Russ dribbling at the top of the key, and an offensive stagnancy that gives the rest of the defense time to rest.

All of these things will play a role in Presti’s decision this summer, but missing the playoffs this year — even with Kevin Durant sidelined during the season’s second half, and Ibaka out for the stretch run — has to hurt his case. We’ll see if Brooks is brought back, but changes should be expected to put a team and coach around Kevin Durant that can win a championship before he decides on outside offers next summer.