Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman takes a look back at contract negotiations between the Oklahoma City Thunder and coach Scott Brooks, who was linked to the Portland Trail Blazers in rumors last summer. The story goes that a text message from Kevin Durant helped him decide to remain in Oklahoma City.
The Blazers had just hired Neil Olshey, the former GM of the Los Angeles Clippers, to the same position. Olshey shares Brooks' agent, Warren LeGarie, and is believed to have a personal relationship with the Thunder coach. Olshey had watched Brooks from afar as he helped build the Thunder into an NBA power and, if the proper opportunity presented itself, was widely believed to be interested in making a run at Brooks had talks with the Thunder continued to lag.
While no talks with the Blazers took place, it would have been a risky career move to say the least for Brooks, whose contract with the Thunder expired on June 30. Though he could have been compensated quite handsomely behind deep-pocketed Blazers owner Paul Allen, Brooks would have had to leave a core that included Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and, at the time, James Harden, for a Blazers team powered by LaMarcus Aldridge and little else. Rookie of the Year front-runner Damian Lillard entered the league to high hopes but had only been a pro for two days.
But Brooks was at a crossroads, with those close to him firmly believing that months of brutal haggling over money had burned the bridge between the coach and the team. His heart was in Oklahoma City. But he appeared headed for Portland. Until his phone buzzed.
"Kevin is family to me," Brooks said. "I've been with him from his rookie year and we've been through a lot together ... I've said this many times, I am blessed to be able to coach the guys I coach. I love the guys I coach. I love being around them. They drive me bonkers at times, but I love those moments too because I know their heart is always in the right place."
Back in June 2012, it was reported that the Blazers might be used as leverage to help Brooks close negotiations with the Thunder. Brooks eventually received a four-year contract. The Blazers hired coach Terry Stotts a little more than one month later.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter