Wizards HC Scott Brooks Reportedly Has 'Playoff Mandate of Sorts' to Keep JobMay 5, 2021
Sneaking into the NBA's play-in tournament may not be enough for Scott Brooks to return as the Washington Wizards' head coach next season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Charania reported Brooks has "a playoff mandate of sorts ... but it’s unclear whether a play-in entry would suffice if their season ended there."
However, Brooks remains "extremely well-liked within Wizards circles" and continues to have a strong relationship with Bradley Beal, which could entice the franchise to keep him around.
Things have changed a bit for the Wizards after they started 3-12. Beal looked like the personification of melancholy early in the year.
Now, Washington is 30-35 and 3.5 games up on the Toronto Raptors for the final play-in berth. Since snapping a four-game losing skid in April, the team has gone on a 13-3 run.
Russell Westbrook also provided some context for that brutal start when he revealed he had a torn quadriceps muscle that clearly hampered him on the court. Since the start of March, Westbrook is averaging 23.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and 12.5 assists while shooting 34.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Brooks' contract expires this offseason, which would allow for the Wizards to make a clean break. That also presents a scenario where he gets a new deal, only for ownership and the front office to determine a year in that a coaching change is necessary, thus triggering a costly buyout.
But the Wizards' recent performances have provided a compelling reason for Brooks to return. Their ceiling looks higher when Beal is partnered with a healthy Westbrook, and Westbrook clearly has a strong rapport with Brooks.
"I’m grateful for someone like Scottie, not only as a coach but as a friend," the nine-time All-Star told reporters after dropping 14 points, 24 assists and 21 rebounds in a win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday. "He’s giving me the opportunity to go out and be me."
Washington is pot committed with Westbrook, who's due $44.2 million in 2021-22 and has a $47.1 million player option in 2022-23. Allowing Brooks to walk this summer would risk reversing the momentum he and his Wizards team have generated in the second half.