By Randy Renner
With the disappointment of last night’s loss to the San Antonio spurs still fresh, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters today he’s excited about the future of his team.
“We had a great year, we won 59 games and made improvement in a lot of areas. Our future is bright, I love the group we have,” Brooks said.
But the group he has at the moment certainly won’t be the group he’ll have next season. Thabo Sefolosha won’t be back, Derek Fisher almost certainly won’t be back unless he decides not to retire afterall. Reggie Jackson is eligible for a contract extension but there’s no guarantee he and the Thunder will reach an agreement and as we saw with James Harden that could mean a parting of the ways before next season begins. Caron Butler probably won’t be back, especially with the way his production and playing time fell away during the playoffs. The Thunder still have Kendrick Perkins signed for next season but with the progress Steven Adams has made will Perk be moved either to another team or to the bench.
So as you can see, the group Brooks has now will be much different from what he has to open training camp. What does the coach think he needs going forward?
“It’s probably unfair for me to answer that right now, I always like to say we have enough, but we do have to continue to improve,” Brooks said.
When pressed he did get into a few general things he wants his team to be better at.
“We did some things defensively this season that we didn’t do in the past so I want to continue to tweak that and I want us to be a better passing team. Each year we’ve improved our assist numbers but I think we can get into the Top 10. And I’d like for us to cut down a little more on turnovers.”
Brooks also seemed open to changing some things up with both the starting lineup and his rotation, “there are positions available,” he said though he wouldn’t get into specifics.
One thing that is happening for sure, Sefolosha won’t return to the starting lineup where he has been almost since his arrival in that trade from the Bulls. Sefolosha was sent to the bench twice during the playoffs, once for Butler and in the Spurs series for Jackson.
On her Instagram account, Sefolosha’s wife, Bertille, wrote, “I can’t believe we lost. I’m proud of our guys but that should never have happened…coaching.” And when asked if she and Thabo were leaving OKC she replied, “yes.”
Brooks seemed open to the idea of continuing the Westbrook, Jackson pairing in the Thunder backcourt next season.
“Who knows what will happen over the summer (contract situation) but Reggie is a very good player, he and Russell can play together, but I don’t know yet, it’s still so early.”
Some might say it’s already getting late, at least in the broader sense. The Thunder have been to the Western Conference Finals three times now and advanced to The Finals once. Is Brooks starting to feel the heat to not only get back to The Finals but to win a title?
“No question we want to win a championship, but you can’t skip steps, you have to be focused and make sacrifices. It’s hard to accomplish. You wanna at least be in the position to compete for a championship and we were one of just four teams that had that chance. We came up six wins short, that’s very close. So I don’t look at it that the clock’s ticking.”
He’s also not paying attention to those who are saying time should already be running out on Brooks’ coaching tenure in Oklahoma City.
“I don’t even consider that,” he said. “I do my job everyday and then live with the results. You can’t worry about what “they” say.”