Aldridge: Brooks, Thunder near agreement on new deal
By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Jun 30 2012 10:02PM - Updated Jun 30 2012 10:56PM
After months of discussions that went down to the wire, the Oklahoma City Thunder and coach Scott Brooks have reached basic agreement on the numbers of a new four-year contract in excess of $4 million annually, and were working out contract language Saturday night with the hopes of getting the deal done on Sunday, when Brooks's current deal expires, according to a league source.
Brooks, 46, took the Thunder to the NBA Finals this past season, defeating the then-defending champion Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs en route to the Western Conference title. In his two full seasons as Oklahoma City's head coach (he took over early in the 2008-09 season for P.J. Carlesimo), Brooks won 50 games twice and won Coach of the Year honors in 2010. The Thunder went 47-19 in this lockout-shortened season. Both sides sought a quick resolution, but negotiations slowed down after the two sides couldn't agree on a three- or four-year deal.
The Thunder finally agreed to a four-year offer a couple of weeks ago, and the two sides have been slowly working on the numbers over the last couple of months. Brooks, who made $2.1 million this season, pointed to the team's ascension from second-round playoff team two years ago, to the Western Conference finals last season, to the Finals this season as evidence of how the young Thunder team under his tutelage had grown quickly. In addition, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the team's two superstars, had vouched for Brooks and his ability to coach and challenge them. But the Thunder weren't willing to go as far as other teams had in paying their head coaches over the past few years, and pointed out that Durant and Westbrook each eschewed free agency in order to sign extensions to stay in Oklahoma City.
In the end, though, Oklahoma City has apparently come up to where at least the league's top 10 coaches are. This past season, 11 head coaches made $4 million or more. Brooks' deal will not likely come to the level of Dallas' Rick Carlisle, who got a four-year extension in May averaging better than $4.5 million. Boston's Doc Rivers makes the most of any head coach, at $7 million per year, but those days are over for NBA coaches, especially in the wake of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in which players had to take a collective 12 percent pay cut.
Brooks has a career regular season mark of 174-125.
ESPN reported that the two sides had met early Saturday. Other sources reported that the sides talked most of Saturday to get the basic framework on a new deal near completion.