Scott Brooks, the Oklahoma City Thunder head coach who has overseen the team since taking over in the 2008-09 season, has been fired.
Updates: see below
The news was first broken on Twitter:
Oklahoma City has fired coach Scott Brooks, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 22, 2015
Thunder GM Sam Presti traveled to meet Scott Brooks in California today and delivered the news, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 22, 2015
Presti's decision wasn't a reflection of the job Brooks did this season, but ultimately a long-view for the franchise, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 22, 2015
Shortly thereafter, the Thunder released the following press statement:
"This is an extremely difficult decision on many levels. Scott helped establish the identity of the Thunder and has earned his rightful place in the history of our organization through his seven years as a valued leader and team member," said Sam Presti, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager. "As we all know, this past year we had unique and challenging circumstances and as I have conveyed, not many people could have accomplished what Scott and this team were able to. Therefore, it is very important to state that this decision is not a reflection of this past season, but rather an assessment of what we feel is necessary at this point in time in order to continually evolve, progress and sustain. We determined that, in order to stimulate progress and put ourselves in the best position next season and as we looked to the future, a transition of this kind was necessary for the program. We move forward with confidence in our foundation and embrace the persistence and responsibility that is required to construct an elite and enduring basketball organization capable of winning an NBA championship in Oklahoma City."
Brooks was named head coach of the Thunder on April 15, 2009 after serving as interim head coach during the 2008-09 campaign. Over the course of the last seven seasons, Brooks accumulated a 338-207 (.620) record with the Thunder and was named the 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Year. An NBA veteran of over 24 years as a head coach, assistant and player, Brooks helped guide the Thunder to three appearances in the Western Conference Finals (2011, 2012, 2014), and a trip to the 2012 NBA Finals.
"We have a deep appreciation for all that Scott has contributed to the Thunder organization over the last seven years," said Clayton I. Bennett, Thunder Chairman. "He helped us build the foundation of this team and led us to much success. While a very hard decision, I support the need to transition to a new coach that will allow us to continue the growth and progress that will help us reach all of our goals. We wish Scott and his family only the best as he moves forward."
Update: Sam Amick tweets that GM Sam Presti did not consult the players before making the move:
OKC GM Sam Presti made call of firing Scott Brooks w/out consulting his players, & it was about the long view more than it was last season— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 22, 2015
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook et al have trusted Presti before, and they'll have to here. Change was necessary to evolve, as OKC saw it.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 22, 2015
Brooks has had a tremendous amount of success in Oklahoma City, but disappointing endings over the last 3 seasons, by and large due to injuries to Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant, the Thunder have fallen short of their goal to get back to the championship round as they did in 2012.
The press release indicates that the coaching search is underway. According to Wojnarowski, a leading candidate is Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan, who won the NCAA championship in 2006 and 2007 and nearly accepted the head coaching job with the Orlando Magic.
According to another story yesterday by Adam Zagoria, Connecticut Huskies coach and former Thunder player Kevin Ollie has been a target of the Thunder:
Kevin Ollie, who led the UConn Huskies to their fourth NCAA championship in 2014, is being "seriously considered" for the Oklahoma City head coaching job, a source close to the situation told SNY.tv.
Ollie teamed with Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City and remains close with GM Sam Presti. Ollie is considered to be one of the keys to convincing Durant to remain in Oklahoma City after he enters free agency in 2016, the source said.
Zagoria updated his story today after the news was announced:
In May 2014, Ollie agreed to a five-year contract extension at UConn worth $15 million. Prior to that, he had been linked to coaching jobs with the Thunder, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.
"He had an opportunity [with OKC] last year, it never got to a formal offer," the source said. "OKC made an effort to convince Ollie to come last season and he said no."
Brooks will likely have a number of suitors, according to Wojnarowski:
Brooks will immediately become a top candidate for the openings in Orlando and Denver, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 22, 2015
We will continue to report the story as it develops.