The Oklahoma City Thunder finished the 2014-2015 season 45-37. Not bad considering Kevin Durant playing in just 27 games this year, Russell Westbrook missed 15 games and Serge Ibaka missed the final 18 games, a crucial point in their playoff push. Unfortunately, in the ultra competitive Western Conference, 45-37 was only good for 9th place. The Thunder actually tied with the 8th place New Orleans Pelicans but lost the head to head tie breaker. With that playoff miss, the Oklahoma City Thunder have fired head coach Scott Brooks after 7 seasons. Had the Thunder played in the Eastern Conference, Brooks would have had the Thunder sitting as the 6th seed in the playoffs.
Brooks had a lot of success during his time with the Thunder. His winning percentage of .620 is the highest in NBA history among NBA coaches that have never won a title. Although he has never won a title, he does have a winning record of 39-34 in the playoffs which shows that he has advanced in the post season before.
The first options the Thunder will look at to replace Brooks are from the college ranks. Florida head coach Billy Donovan and University of Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie are at the top of General Manager Sam Presti’s wish list. In his young collegiate coaching career, Ollie replaced the legendary Jim Calhoun and brought UCONN a national championship. Ollie finished his NBA career as a teammate of Kevin Durant’s in OKC and is said to be a good friend of Durant’s. It could be a ploy to keep Durant in Oklahoma City when Durant hits free agency in 2016. Billy Donovan too has won multiple national championships at the collegiate level and has close ties to GM Sam Presti.
As for Brooks, he has certainly shown he can win at this level and should not be on the market for too long. Two jobs that are open and intriguing are the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic jobs. The Nuggets have some talent on their roster but lost faith in first time head coach Brian Shaw who was ultimately fired down the stretch of the NBA season. Orlando has a lot of young talent in Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, and Nikola Vucevic that make Orlando attractive for a coach. They also have Tobias Harris but he’ll be a free agent this summer and could walk. It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.