Billy Donovan was a smart coaching hire for the Thunder, but Scott Brooks never should have been let go, former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy tells Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. Van Gundy, who served as a graduate assistant at Providence during Donovan’s senior season, said Brooks did an “awesome” job, taking Oklahoma City to three Western Conference Finals appearances and one trip to the NBA Finals during his eight seasons. He was fired after OKC missed the playoffs last year in a season marked by injuries to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. “I just can’t say enough great things about Scott,” Van Gundy said. “I thought with his body of work, I was shocked that he wasn’t given a contract extension.”
There’s more news out of the Northwest Division:
- The Wolves seem to be growing impatient with Ricky Rubio as their point guard and may be grooming rookie Tyus Jones to take his place, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Jones, who was acquired in a draft-night trade with the Cavaliers, would fit into Minnesota’s young core that includes Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng, and Shabazz Muhammad. “We’ve got a lot of young guys who are talented,” Jones said. “We’ve got a good group of veterans who are going to help us learn. The good thing about us is the young guys are willing to learn and ready to learn and don’t think they know it all, so it’s a good mixture.”
- The Jazz are reluctant to give their starting point guard job to Trey Burke after the ACL injury suffered by Dante Exum, Washburn relates in the same story. The belief in Utah is that Burke shoots too much and often doesn’t run coach Quin Snyder’s offense, according to Washburn, but the team may have no choice but to turn to Burke if it can’t trade for a replacement. The Jazz acquired Burke in a 2013 draft-day trade with the Blazers.
- Exum is still getting other opinions on his torn ACL before scheduling surgery, tweets Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. The Jazz aren’t expected to release any sort of timeline on his return until after the surgery takes place.