Things are becoming interesting in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder announced Wednesday they have parted ways with coach Scott Brooks after a season in which the team missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Despite the bad luck of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka all suffering various injuries, the Thunder were able to post a 45-37 record, but missed out on the playoffs due to the New Orleans Pelicans holding the tie-breaker after winning the season series 3-1.

In seven seasons with OKC, the Brooks-led Thunder went 338-207, including a NBA Finals appearance and only missing the playoffs twice in that time. Since falling to the Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals, they have underachieved (which many will argue was due to the departure of James Harden).

The move is not all surprising as Brooks’ coaching prowess came into question in recent seasons and the team made sure to note in its statement the firing was not because of the result of the 2014-2015 season, but instead “an assessment of what we feel is necessary at this point in time in order to continually evolve, progress and sustain.”

In other words, the next couple of seasons for the Thunder are critical if it hopes to keep players like Durant and Westbrook in OKC.

With Durant scheduled for free agency in 2016 and Westbrook the following year in 2017, the hiring of a head coach is going to dictate what direction the Thunder head in.

Early names indicate Billy Donovan (Florida), Fred Hoiberg (Iowa), and Kevin Ollie (UCONN) could be in the mix for the opening, but it raises the question…. Will the Thunder take a chance on a candidate in the college ranks?

The interesting name is Kevin Ollie, who Durant has great respect for and who he says is responsible for the winning culture in OKC.

“He changed the whole culture, I think. He might not say it, but I think he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City.”

Although, linked to the position pre-Brooks firing in recent days, Ollie says he is staying at UCONN:

Although, the reliable and resourceful Adrian Wojnarowski says that is simply PR talk, which would indicate to me that Ollie will be the favorite to land the job if he does interview for it:

Some other notable names to watch in the search: Mike D’Antoni, Alvin Gentry, Scott Skiles, and possibly Tom Thibodeau, depending how the situation with the Bulls plays out after the playoffs.

While the names are not exactly glamorous in the veteran pool, the Thunder have a decision to make. GM Sam Presti has done well in his decisions and I would say has earned the trust of the players, fans, and rest of the franchise to make the right choice, although he did pull the trigger on the Brooks’ firing without consulting Durant nor Westbrook, which usually backfires more times than not.

At the moment, the feeling is OKC’s championship window is closing. While it’s slowly closing for now, the potential departures of its stars could slam that window shut.

The only question is does it close after the 2015-2016 season if Durant bolts elsewhere or can the next coach salvage the duo of Durant/Westbrook to return to prominence for the foreseeable future?

Coaches will jump at the chance to run a team headed by two of the games more polarizing players, but a coach must understand it could be a one-season deal and he will possibly be without both by the time the 2017-2018 season starts.

Time to update those resumes. OKC is looking for someone to save their franchise from falling into mediocrity.

This is what you’re following:

ESPNNBA_2015-Apr-22

(via ESPN)

 

About The Author

Editor-in-chief

Johnny Navarrette is the Editor-in-Chief of Game 7 Network. His past experience includes, but is not limited to, senior editor & lead writer at LakerNation.com, staff writer for the Drew League in the summer of 2014, and currently works for the OC Register's high school sports section, OC Varsity. He is a graduate of Cal State University, Fullerton, earning his B.A. in Communications.

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