Scott Brooks

Western Notes: J. Jackson, Gasol, Blazers, Kings, Christie

A total of 56 free agents reached contract agreements with teams around the NBA on Monday, but not a single one of those players is signing with the Grizzlies. That’s by design though, according to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, who writes that Memphis’ plan was always to have a quiet free agent period and focus on negotiating a potential contract extension with Jaren Jackson Jr.

One of 24 players eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, Jackson won’t get a maximum-salary deal like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman has suggested that the former fourth overall pick remains very much in the franchise’s long-term plans.

“I think we’re going to be our best selves over time with Jaren,” Kleiman said after the draft, per Barnes. “Spacing the floor, attacking, creating, defensively taking advantage of the versatility he brings to the table.”

Here’s more from around the West as we wait for day two of free agency to start heating up:

  • When Marc Gasol signed a two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Lakers last summer, there was some speculation that he might decide to retire after the 2020/21 season. That’s not his plan though. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets, Gasol told reporters following Spain’s elimination from the Olympics on Tuesday that he intends to continue his NBA career and finish his contract with L.A.
  • The Trail Blazers formally announced Chauncey Billups‘ coaching staff in a press release on Monday, confirming that previously-reported assistant coaching hires such as Scott Brooks, Roy Rogers, Steve Hetzel, and Edniesha Curry are now official. Former Long Island Nets assistant Milt Palacio will also be part of Billups’ staff, according to the team.
  • Doug Christie is moving from the broadcast booth to the sidelines, as the Kings officially announced the former NBA player and veteran TV analyst will be joining Luke Walton‘s staff as an assistant coach. Christie, who played for Sacramento from 2000-05, said in a statement that coaching for the Kings has been a “dream of mine.”

Blazers Finalizing Deal To Hire Scott Brooks As Top Assistant

The Trail Blazers and Scott Brooks are finalizing a deal that will make the former Wizards coach the top assistant on Chauncey Billups‘ new coaching staff in Portland, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

A report earlier this week indicated that Brooks was in the mix along with Vinny Del Negro and Lionel Hollins to become the lead assistant on Portland’s staff. The Blazers had been looking to pair Billups – a first-time head coach – with an experienced lieutenant, and Brooks certainly qualifies.

Brooks, who worked as an assistant for the Nuggets, Kings, and SuperSonics/Thunder early in his coaching career, eventually took over as head coach in Oklahoma City in 2008. He led the team to a 338-207 (.620) regular season record in seven years at the helm, making the NBA Finals in 2012.

After taking a year off, Brooks was hired as the Wizards’ head coach in 2016. During his five-year tenure in D.C., the club went 183-207 (.469) in the regular season and made the playoffs three times, winning one series in 2017. Washington didn’t retain Brooks when his contract expired at the end of the 2020/21 season.

The Blazers figure to continue filling out Billups’ staff in the coming days and weeks.

Wizards Notes: Nored, Coaching Search, Beal, Workouts

The Wizards recently conducted a second interview with Ronald Nored for their head coaching job, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

A report last week indicated that Nored was close to leaving his position as a Hornets assistant for a role on Rick Carlisle‘s staff in Indiana. Haynes’ report today suggests Nored may still be in the running for Washington’s top job — presumably, if he isn’t hired by the Wizards, the 31-year-old will pivot to finalizing a deal with the Pacers.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Besides Nored, the Wizards’ top head coaching candidates are believed to be Wes Unseld Jr., Charles Lee, Darvin Ham, and Jamahl Mosley (who may be hired by the Magic). Fred Katz of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at those four contenders for the job to assess what they could bring to the organization.
  • Before the Wizards finalize their head coaching hire, general manager Tommy Sheppard will meet with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook to get their feedback on the finalists, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • Within the same NBC Sports Washington story, Beal says he appreciated the five years he spent playing for Scott Brooks. “When I first got the news (Brooks wouldn’t return), it was tough,” Beal said. “Scotty was great. This is my second coach I’ve played for and even when I talked to him afterwards, (I said) how grateful I was towards him. He helped change my game and evolved my game to what it is now.”
  • The Wizards are working out a pair of guards today, according to Hughes, who tweets that Arizona State’s Josh Christopher and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are visiting the team. Christopher and Dosunmu rank 33rd and 34th, respectively, on ESPN’s big board for the 2021 draft, so it seems like a long shot that the Wizards would select either with the No. 15 pick.

Del Negro, Brooks, Hollins Candidates To Be Lead Assistant In Portland

Three names have emerged as candidates to be the lead assistant to new Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. They are former Bulls and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, former Wizards and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks, and Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins.

Del Negro, 54, is an analyst with NBA TV and hasn’t coached in the league since the 2012/13 season. He served as director of the draft combine in 2019.

Brooks, 55, has been head coach of the Wizards for the past five years, but the team decided last month not to extend his contract. He also spent seven years as the head coach in Oklahoma City.

Hollins, 67, is a former head coach with the Grizzlies and Nets and has been with the Lakers since Frank Vogel took over as head coach in 2019. He started his playing career in Portland and was part of the team’s only NBA championship in 1977.

Billups is a first-time head coach, so it makes sense that the Blazers would be looking to pair him with experienced assistants. Del Negro, Brooks, and Hollins all certainly fit the bill.

Scott Brooks Interviews For Assistant Coaching Job With Lakers

Former Wizards coach Scott Brooks has interviewed with the Lakers for an assistant coaching position under Frank Vogel, veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein tweets.

Brooks would be the second high-profile former head coach to join Vogel’s staff if he reaches an agreement with the Lakers. Former Knicks coach David Fizdale is expected to be one of Vogel’s top assistants, though no formal announcement has been made. Jason Kidd departed the staff to become the new Mavericks head coach.

Washington announced on June 16 that Brooks wouldn’t return as its head coach despite a trip to the playoffs. Washington lost in the first round to Philadelphia, 4-1. Brooks’ contract expired at the end of the season and he was unable to negotiate a new one.

Brooks, formerly the coach of the Thunder, joined Washington ahead of the 2016/17 campaign. He compiled a 183-207 regular-season record (.469) with the Wizards.

Wizards Notes: Brooks-Westbrook, Beal, Coach Search, Unseld

Russell Westbrook wanted the Wizards to keep Scott Brooks as head coach, but his endorsement wasn’t enough to save Brooks’ job, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Westbrook and Brooks have a long relationship that dates back to Oklahoma City, where Brooks coached him for seven seasons.

Westbrook endorsed Brooks after Washington was ousted from the playoffs and spoke to general manager Tommy Sheppard about the coaching situation during his exit interview. However, Sheppard doesn’t think Westbrook will be affected by the change on the bench.

“Moving forward, Russell’s career does speak for itself. He was fantastic with Scotty in (Oklahoma City),” Sheppard said. “He won MVP in (Oklahoma City) under a different coach. Last year, he was All-NBA under a different coach. This is part of the business that we all struggle with, but it’s a certain part of the business that is something we know when we get into this business, that the only constant thing is change.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • The Wizards’ decision to move on from Brooks is all about trying to ensure that All-Star guard Bradley Beal sticks around long-term, per Fred Katz of The Athletic“What we gotta do as an organization is continue to do whatever it takes to put ourselves forward to have sustainable winning,” Sheppard said in comments to reporters about the decision. Katz notes, however, that it may behoove Washington to add a new voice on the bench who could be open to a rebuild, should Beal opt to leave ahead of the 2022/23 season.
  • Because Wizards stars Westbrook (soon to be in his age-33 season) and Beal (an All-Star in his prime) both have player options in their deals for 2022/23, it may make sense to make a win-now hire, adding someone with a prior head coaching track record, opines Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Sheppard seemed open to adding a first-time head coach if he deemed the fit appropriate. “You want the qualities that you think are going to amplify the needs of your team,” Sheppard said. “You look at the modern NBA and what’s going on, who’s in the [playoffs], who’s still playing. It’s a great snapshot of what the NBA is. You have very diverse coaches, you have former players, you have people that came from Division II colleges. It’s just a reminder that there’s no clear path of how to get there, there’s no magic formula.” Less experienced coaches can also be significantly more cost-effective, Hughes notes.
  • The Wizards would be wise to consider longtime Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr., writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. Aldridge notes that Unseld has significant roots in D.C., from his Hall of Fame father to the years he logged between stints as a scout and assistant coach for the Mystics and Wizards. Given the precarious nature of Beal’s future with the franchise (he can sign a long-term extension in the fall or opt out in 2022), nailing this hire will be crucial for Sheppard, Aldridge writes.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.

Wizards’ Coaching Search Will Be ‘Diverse, Robust’

With Scott Brooks officially out as the Wizards’ head coach, his replacement won’t be named quickly. GM Tommy Sheppard said he will conduct a “very diverse, very robust” search, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. Sheppard also used the words “thorough” and “inclusive” to describe the search, which suggests that he might give serious consideration to a woman candidate.

We have more interesting tidbits from Sheppard’s press conference on Wednesday:

  • Sheppard said he opted to part ways with Brooks and then informed team chairman Ted Leonsis of his plan. Leonsis gave a rubber stamp of approval, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. “‘If that’s what you want to do, then that’s what you’ll do,'” Leonsis told Sheppard.
  • The ability to communicate well with the players will be high on the list of traits Sheppard is seeking for his next coach, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Sheppard doesn’t want the next coach to take on too much responsibility — he’ll seek one that’s willing to have offensive and defensive “coordinators” on this staff.
  • Sheppard will be seeking more depth and veteran leadership in free agency and trades this offseason, Youngmisuk relays in a separate tweet. He isn’t worried about finding plenty of worthy candidates for the head coaching job on a team that make the playoffs this season, adding that “D.C. will sell itself.”

Scott Brooks Won’t Return As Wizards’ Head Coach

12:55pm: The Wizards have officially announced in a press release that they won’t extend Brooks’ contract and that they’ll immediately begin the search for a new head coach.

“We have been committed to taking the proper steps over the last two seasons to develop our young players, bring in pieces to complement Bradley Beal and build a winning environment that will ultimately lead to sustained on-court success,” general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “Our organization will always be grateful to Scott for his dedication and work both on the court and in the community over the past five years and I personally admire and respect how he helped keep our team together during the unprecedented events of the last 15 months.”


10:29am: The Wizards and Scott Brooks couldn’t reach an agreement on a new contract for the veteran head coach and have agreed to part ways, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Brooks’ deal with Washington expired at the end of the 2020/21 season.

Brooks, formerly the coach of the Thunder, joined Washington ahead of the 2016/17 campaign and led the team to a 49-33 regular season record in his first season. That team came within one game of earning a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Brooks’ squads took a step backward in subsequent years, compiling a 134-174 record (.435) over the next four seasons.

Halfway through this season, it seemed Brooks might become the first coach fired in 2021, perhaps even before the regular season ended. The Wizards had a 17-32 record and looked dead in the water, far removed from the playoff picture. However, a second-half surge saw the Wizards finish the season on a 17-6 run, earning them a play-in spot, which they parlayed into a playoff berth.

The late-season run – along with endorsements from Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal – helped convince the Wizards to seriously consider extending their relationship with Brooks — both Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) suggest ownership was discussing the possibility of a new deal. However, the two sides weren’t able to agree to terms and the club will now be in the market for a new head coach.

The Wizards are the sixth team to launch a head coaching search this offseason, joining the Celtics, Pacers, Magic, Trail Blazers, and Pelicans. Now a free agent, Brooks could emerge as a candidate for one of those other jobs, though there has been no reporting linking him to any of them yet.

As for Brooks’ replacement in D.C., no frontrunners have been identified so far, but it seems like a safe bet that Westbrook and especially Beal will have a voice in the club’s hiring process.

Community Shootaround: Scott Brooks’ Future

Four NBA teams are currently on the lookout for new head coaches, while most other clubs whose seasons have ended will stick with their current leaders. However, one team has notably yet to make a call on its head coach — Scott Brooks‘ doesn’t have a contract with the Wizards for the 2021/22 season, and Washington has yet to finalize a decision on whether or not he’ll be back.

Halfway through the 2020/21 season, Brooks looked like he might be the first coach to be let go, either right after the All-Star break or when the regular season ended. The Wizards had a 17-32 record and looked dead in the water, far removed from the playoff picture.

However, a second-half surge saw the Wizards finish the season on a 17-6 run, earning them a play-in spot, which they parlayed into a playoff berth. Washington didn’t last long in the postseason, falling to Philadelphia in five games in the first round. But the late-season hot streak complicated the team’s decision on Brooks, who probably couldn’t realistically have been expected to lead the squad any further, given its lack of top-tier talent outside the backcourt combo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook.

Those two star guards both endorsed Brooks in their end-of-season sessions with the media. Westbrook, who also played for Brooks in Oklahoma City, was particularly effusive in his praise of the veteran coach.

“If it was up to me, Scotty wouldn’t be going anywhere. It’s not even a question or a conversation to even be brought up,” Westbrook told reporters last week. “If the conversation is brought to me, I will definitely voice my opinion like I’m voicing it now and see what happens.”

Westbrook’s support of Brooks – as well as Beal’s – could play a significant role in the Wizards’ decision, according to Quinton Mayo, who suggests there has been momentum toward the two sides working out a new deal. If Brooks does return, Mayo says, it would be contingent on him overhauling his coaching staff.

Still, the Wizards haven’t officially made their decision yet, so before they do, we want to know what you think. Should – and will – they bring back Brooks? If they don’t, which coaching candidate(s) should they target? And, in that scenario, would Brooks be a good fit for another team’s head coaching vacancy?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on the Wizards and Brooks!

GM: Wizards Won’t Make Decision on Brooks Right Away

With the Wizards‘ loss to the 76ers on Wednesday, head coach Scott Brooks has officially reached the end of his five-year contract. However, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays, general manager Tommy Sheppard isn’t ready to make a decision on Brooks’ future just yet.

Any question about that stuff, that’s not for today, that’s not for this time,” Sheppard said. “I will say this, Scotty did a hell of a job keeping this team together through some of the most difficult and dark moments probably in franchise history, to be honest with you.

The Wizards fought through a season-ending injury to starting center Thomas Bryant, as well as multiple disruptions due to COVID-19, to finish the year on a 17-6 run and advance from the play-in tournament to their third playoff appearance in Brooks’ five-year tenure.

Still, Sheppard reiterated the need to examine the entire team, from players to coaches, ahead of the 2021/2022 season, which could prove to be the final year of star Bradley Beal‘s contract, should he decline his 2022/2023 player option.

Despite Beal finishing the year second in the NBA in scoring and his backcourt mate Russell Westbrook leading the league in assists, the Wizards were games under .500, and if they hope to retain Beal beyond 2022, they will have to consider how to build the team around their talented backcourt.

As for Brooks, the veteran coach understands the business of these decisions, and is letting the situation play out as it will. “It doesn’t bother me one bit. That’s just part of being in this business. It’s obviously well-documented that my contract’s up,” he said.

The 12-year head coach is instead taking the time to enjoy the opportunity he had with the Wizards and to focus on his family as Sheppard and team owner Ted Leonsis mull a decision on Brooks’ future.