Slowing the Roll on Finding a Replacement for Scott Brooks

Rob Mahoney@RobMahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 22, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 19: Head coach Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during his post game press conference against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 19, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The deluge of coaching rumors in Oklahoma City may have been inevitable from the moment that Scott Brooks reportedly (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports) turned down a three-year, $11 million extension. But now we're sure to be drowning in them following Brooks' lackluster showing in the NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder didn't exactly lose because of Brooks, but his rotation management nonetheless didn't exactly put the Thunder in an optimal position to succeed.

There are, of course, alternatives available should Brooks and his agent decide to play hardball. Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan and Brian Shaw all remain uncommitted, and, oh, lest we forget, Marc Stein of dropped in with everyone's favorite rumored coaching target:

The reality is that Brooks and his bosses, after months of talks, don't have a deal ... and time is running out. And sources say that the Thunder, just to be safe, have started brainstorming in-house about whom they plan to pursue should negotiations with Brooks collapse. Two names, according to sources, that have come up in those discussions: ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy and, yes, 11-ringed coaching free agent Phil Jackson.

Phil Jackson is the answer to any and every coaching search—the kind of legendary option that apparently will solve all of a team's problems with a snap of his fingers and a calm stare. Don't misread my tone; I have no doubt that Jackson could do a bang-up job as the head coach of the Thunder, but I think we should all take a deep breath before we seriously consider who OKC GM Sam Presti would hire in the event that a deal with Brooks cannot be reached.

Brooks' strategy in the finals may not have been perfect, but he still has the pulse of this team pegged, has a great relationship with the players on the roster and has grown significantly over the last few seasons. He'll have some fine-tuning to do based on his most recent approach, but he's just weeks removed from outfoxing Gregg Popovich and shutting out Rick Carlisle. Scott Brooks is a much better coach today than he was a year ago, and it seems safe to assume that we'll be able to say the same at the end of the 2012-2013 season.

His place with the Thunder franchise is secure, so long as he wants to stay—and we have every reason in the world to believe that he does. He's a very good option for this particular team, no matter what his most recent errors might have you believe. What more is there to consider? What more is there to fret? This is an arrangement that seems all but certain to be resolved in a matter of time, and though the contract figure may be fluid, I hesitate to fill a chair that isn't yet empty.