It is official. After 7 years of coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder, the organization has fired coach Scott Brooks. During Brooks' tenure, he compiled an impressive 338-207 (.620) record and five consecutive trips to the playoffs before falling short in this injury plagued season.
Was the firing fair? I don't think it was at all. The Thunder missed playoffs this season, and the difference between the 8th and 9th seed came down to a tie-breaker with the New Orleans Pelicans. Had OKC made the playoffs, would Brooks still be on the verge of getting fired? Had the Thunder made the playoffs, this means that Brooks would have led a team missing the league MVP and his defensive anchor while overseeing a roster overhaul in the middle of the season, turning the mess into a highly potent offense in the process. And he would have done all this in the middle of the brutal Western Conference.
Early in the year, the Thunder struggled while missing Durant, Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, and others with a variety of injuries where they were left with only 8 healthy players and had to request an injury exception from the NBA. Durant and Westbrook missed a combined 70 games. Even then, the Thunder hoped all season long that Durant would be healthy by the time the playoffs started, and were holding onto the 8th spot with a realistic shot to move up in the seedings. When Durant and Ibaka were announced lost for the season, the Thunder continued to compete and won 3 out of their last 4 games.
Evaluating Scott Brooks based on the past season wasn't the right decision at all. Brooks should've been evaluated in the next season where he would hopefully be coaching a healthy squad that has championship potential.
Furthermore, this is what Brooks' players had to say about him:
"He did a great job," Westbrook said of Brooks’ performance this season. "I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does behind the scenes. Obviously, a lot of people that’s not in (the practice facility) want him to do other things, want to see other things from him. But as a coach and as a friend, I think he does an amazing job of communicating what he wants out of the players."
"Why are you going to fire him?" Ibaka is quoted as saying to the website hoopshype.com. "What has he done? Injuries were not his fault. Why would he go? He has not done anything. He’s not responsible for the injuries. He did his best with the team he had. Would (another) coach do better with a team with so many injuries? What could he possibly do about it? The team is with him. You can’t blame him for what has happened."
Even if Brooks had done a better job this season and coaxed his team into 7-8 more wins, there was still little hope of getting much farther than the semi-final round. The Western conference is too good and the top teams too tough to see OKC get very far. If it wasn't the Warriors, then it would have been the Rockets or the Clippers.
Sam Presti said in his released statement on firing Brooks, "This decision is not a reflection of this past season." That indicates that the Thunder administration made the following decision thinking about the future. I agree with the criteria of how the decision was made. However, the following decision, should've taken a place in the next season. After Brooks had one more shot to coach a healthy version of his team.