NBA Rumor: Scott Brooks Hot Seat?

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Brooks made no secret about his willingness to return to Washington, saying that there is “no decision” in his mind about whether he’d like to extend his stay in the nation’s capital past the five years it has run thus far. “I love it here. I have gotten to know [owner Ted Leonsis] and his family and the ownership group and what I saw the first four, three and a half years was really incredible, and I don’t know what the exact date was, March 10 [of last year], right after the Knicks game, when COVID suspended play. That’s when I saw what really great ownership is about,” Brooks said. “And I saw it firsthand, he made every decision based on our team, our employees, our people, and that’s what a good organization is about. It’s about nothing but the people and what I saw there I wouldn’t want to move on. I love it here. I love the city. My family loves it. But like I said, it’s for a later time, and we focused on the season this year, and that was more important than anything.”

Leonsis did, though, drop a line later in his press conference that could be applied to the Wizards and their situation with Brooks. When discussing the challenges of the 2020-21 season amid a pandemic, and how the coronavirus affected the Wizards, he said this: “We start every season with every one of our teams as we have to make the playoffs. If we can make the playoffs, then you can aspire to winning a championship,” Leonsis said. Brooks, 55, has the Wizards in position to make the play-in tournament, with a magic number of just one. They could clinch on Friday night with a win over the Cavs.

One source close to the situation said there was a playoff mandate of sorts for Brooks, but it’s unclear whether a play-in entry would suffice if their season ended there. There have been questions swirling about the future of general manager Tommy Sheppard as well, however, making this one even harder to handicap. Brooks, the source said, has not been told what lies ahead. Yet in terms of 11th-hour developments that help his case for a new contract, it doesn’t get much better than this. Not only is Brooks extremely well-liked within Wizards circles, with all indications that he still has Beal’s support along with the synergy with the front office, but also he has the shared history with Westbrook that simply has to be considered here.

Scott Brooks on the hot seat?

Head coach Scott Brooks, who is in the final season of his five-year contract, looks lost trying to find effective lineups. League sources say Brooks is sitting firmly on the hot seat. New coach or not, the team also just needs to be better. Some of their returning players are struggling—Davis Bertans has apparently lost his jumper, and Thomas Bryant still can’t protect the rim (and now he’s out for a season with a torn ACL). Their new additions haven’t moved the needle, either—Robin Lopez looks roasted, and Deni Avdija is just a rookie figuring things out.

Brooks is an interesting candidate for replacement. He has one more year on his deal, which is pricey by non-elite coaching standards. He’s in his fourth season, and things are pretty bad. But he’s managed to stay above the fray and it seems like the players — including Bradley Beal — still like him. And the situation with his boss, Tommy Sheppard, is a little weird: Sheppard is newly in the role of front office head honcho, but Sheppard was in the front office when Brooks was hired and one assumes they have worked together a lot. So this might not quite be a “new GM, new coach” situation like we’ll see in Chicago.

Scott Brooks safe

He’ll have to give fans a vision of how he’ll fix this team that is both public and realistic. And he’ll have to decide whether it makes sense to keep Beal and build around him, or go for a total teardown, trade Beal at the height of his value around the league, and start over. (That would necessarily mean a change, ultimately, at head coach, though Scott Brooks is in no danger for next season, per multiple sources.)
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