Thunder GM Sam Presti doesn’t think Scott Brooks is a bad coach, but he believes he can find a better one, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Brooks was fired Wednesday after the Thunder narrowly missed the playoffs with a 45-37 record. Tramel speculates that the move was about the future, noting that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have had the same coach since they entered the league. He said Presti likely wants to give them a fresh voice as they enter the next stage of their careers.
There’s more news from the Northwest Division:
- Three leading candidates to replace Brooks as Thunder coach were compared by Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. Florida’s Billy Donovan and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie have both been wildly successful as college coaches, while Tom Thibodeau has made the Bulls a perennial playoff team but is rumored to be in hot water in Chicago.
- LaMarcus Aldridge is the latest in a long line of talented power forwards in Portland, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com. When he was drafted by the Trail Blazers in 2006, it was to ultimately replace the man who he is now lining up against in the playoffs, the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph. Aldridge said he remembers being labeled as a “project” early on. “People always called me ‘soft,’ but Z-Bo never did,” Aldridge said. “In practice, I would go at it. I wasn’t strong enough to bang, but I would bang with him as much as I could.” Randolph was dealt to the Knicks in 2007, but the Blazers are hoping to keep Aldridge. He is expected to be among the most sought-after free agents on the market this summer.
Aldridge made comments to Holmes that echoed those he gave to Michael Lee of The Washington Post earlier this season in which he reflected on a time when he didn’t think the Blazers viewed him as a star in the making. “I wish I could say that,” Aldridge said to Holmes. “I want to give you that story so bad. But I’m trying to tell you, they did not believe in me in the beginning. I was a ‘project.'”
- After losing most of his season to shoulder surgery, Utah’s Alec Burks is looking forward to next year, reports Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. The surgical procedure came just two months after Burks agreed to a four-year, $42MM extension with the Jazz. “It was tough,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like that missing so many games, but I learned a lot. I’ll be able to play next year, and I can’t wait.”