Wizards GM Talked With Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook Before Scott Brooks Decision

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIJune 16, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: Head coach Scott Brooks of the Washington Wizards looks on during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers during Game Four of the Eastern Conference first round series at Capital One Arena on May 31, 2021 in Washington, DC. 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 Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Scott Brooks is out as head coach of the Washington Wizards, even though the team's stars—Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook—said they were hoping for a different resolution as the head coach came to the end of his five-year contract.

But general manager Tommy Sheppard said the pair shouldn't be caught off guard by the decision, as he spoke to them and others affected by the choice before bringing down the axe.

"I take all that into account," Sheppard said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. "I had thorough conversations with everyone in the organization. I am aware of how people feel. I am aware of how I feel."

Beal and Westbrook both said Brooks should retain his role after the Wizards were eliminated by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.

Westbrook's relationship with his former head coach dates back to 2008-09, when Brooks was an Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach in Westbrook's rookie year. He took over as head coach after 13 games and remained in that position for six more seasons. The Thunder reached the NBA Finals in 2011-12. 

"Players get a lot of credit because we're on the floor," Westbrook told reporters. "But behind the scenes, Scotty is one hell of a coach. Not just that, a person, and he does an amazing job making sure we've got all our stuff together." 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the two sides couldn't agree on a new deal, per Youngmisuk. 

"This is showbiz; it's not show-friends," said Sheppard, who also called Brooks "a dear close friend."

"And what we got to do as an organization is continue to do whatever it takes to have sustainable winning."

Brooks was 183-207 with three postseason appearances during his tenure with Washington, which dates back to the 2016-17 season, when he led them to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

This year's group edged into the postseason, rallying from a 17-32 start amid season-ending injuries to Deni Avdija and Thomas Bryant and a two-week COVID-19 pause—all after expectations were sky-high following the trade that brought Westbrook to the East Coast.

There are now six head coaching jobs open in the NBA, with the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers also seeking new leaders.