With the 2015-16 regular season finally in the books and only a franchise-worst 17 wins to show for it, the Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for a pivotal offseason.
Before the NBA Draft in June and free agency in July, the Lakers will have a few days prior to those events that could make their offseason picture a bit more clear. May 17 will be a nervous day for Los Angeles, as the NBA Draft Lottery will determine if they keep their top-three protected pick (55.8 percent chance).
Perhaps even before that, however, they will have to make a decision on whether to retain Byron Scott as their head coach or go in another direction. Scott is under contract for two more seasons, with the second being a team option. If the Lakers elect to relieve Scott of his coaching duties, it will certainly be a day that appeases plenty of fans.
If Los Angeles goes with that route, they will need a coach that can develop their young core. One option could be the man that was at the helm in Oklahoma City while Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden were developing as youngsters.
According to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders and the Los Angeles Times, former Thunder coach Scott Brooks would be interested in the Lakers job if it becomes available.
Brooks, according to people close to the 2010 NBA Coach of the Year, has interest in a position with the Lakers should it become available. A number of teams are expected to pursue Kevin Durant’s former coach (and Durant himself), including the Washington Wizards.
Pincus also notes the past history as a potential recruiting chip for Durant in free agency this summer, along with Westbrook in 2017.
Brooks had success with the Thunder, helping turn the young group into a championship contender that reached the NBA Finals in 2012. Oklahoma City lost to the Miami Heat, and were never able to get back to the Finals during Brooks’ tenure. They missed the playoffs last season (Brooks’ last), but that was due mainly to severe injuries to both Durant and Westbrook.
Coming with the territory of never getting a championship with that group came some criticism. Brooks’ teams ran a lot of isolation basketball and lacked creativity on that end. But then again, when you have that much firepower, sometimes that can be something that is nearly impossible to avoid.
Some people also argued that Durant and Westbrook would have developed into star players regardless of who the coach was. That is certainly debatable, but the fact that Harden and Ibaka — along with some solid role players — developed into very good NBA players bodes well for Brooks’ case. With so many of his players making noticeable strides over the years, he certainly deserves credit for a large portion of that. Also, with Ibaka struggling this season under Billy Donovan, the argument for Brooks gains a bit more merit.
He certainly is not a perfect coach, but given the circumstances, Brooks could be a great fit with Los Angeles’ young talent. There would be some risk, but a potentially high reward as well.
One thing is for sure. Lakers fans would consider just about anyone an upgrade over Byron Scott at this point.