Wizards HC Scott Brooks Reportedly Has 'Playoff Mandate of Sorts' to Keep Job

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2021

TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 05: Head coach Scott Brooks of the Washington Wizards looks on during the first half against the Toronto Raptors at Amalie Arena on April 05, 2021 in Tampa, 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 Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

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.

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Bradley Beal was going through it on the bench. pic.twitter.com/OFLbkdbVMe

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.