Kevin Durant’s text message that may have cost the OKC Thunder an NBA title


Feb 12, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) and head coach Scott Brooks react to a flagrant 1 foul call on Durant during the second half against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 109-94. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Brook’s contract was going to be up with the Oklahoma City Thunder back on June 30. Then he signed a four-year, $16 million deal to stay with the team.

But there was a chance this wouldn’t happen.

The Portland Trail Blazers were among the teams courting Brooks back then. Brooks had reportedly turned down three-year, $11 million offers with hopes that an agreement could be reached with the Thunder.

One of the things that would sway Brooks the most to stay in OKC was a text message he received from Kevin Durant.

"When the clock ticked inside of what could best be described as a harrowing final hour of contract negotiations between Scott Brooks and the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer, the thing that ultimately kept the team’s coveted free agent coach from now pacing the sidelines of the Portland Trail Blazers was a text message.It came from Kevin Durant.“It was like the day before they got something done,” Durant said. “I think that day was the toughest.”The message moved Brooks, who had been tied up in tense on-again, off-again talks that had put his future with the Thunder in jeopardy."

Via Darnell Mayberry/The Oklahoman

You can’t blame Durant for supporting his coach and sending that text but now the Thunder have Brooks for the next four years and now, more than ever, that’s starting to look like a bad thing.

Criticism first came Brooks’ way a few years ago when the Thunder were called out for running predictable plays on offense. Despite the talents of Durant and Russell Westbrook, late in games they were unable to get good looks at the basket.

This kind of went away last year as the Thunder made their run to the NBA Finals. The Thunder still didn’t look like the Spurs offensively but they had definitely made improvements and became a team that could close teams out with good offense.

This season the Thunder were supposed to take, once again, the next step. They had made it to the NBA Finals the year before and now they were supposed to become that hungry team that looked poise to win it all.

A recent slump has made you feel otherwise about this team. The blame feels like it has to be completely on Brooks.

The other big criticism of Brooks has been his substitution patterns. It used to be about him playing Kendrick Perkins far too many minutes, especially because it was instead of Nick Collison.

Most recently it is Brooks’ affinity to playing Derek Fisher that is puzzling.

Fisher was signed by the Thunder after the trade deadline just like last year. Except this year, the Thunder have no need for Fisher since Reggie Jackson has emerged as a more than capable backup point guard.

Still, Fisher is finding 12-18 minutes per game and the Thunder seem much worse off when this happens.

It’s a stubbornness that must exist in Brooks to rationalize playing Fisher and Perkins big minutes despite the overwhelming evidence that there are better options on the roster.

It’s a coach who doesn’t see the big picture. He likes those guys because they are veterans and leaders and are always striving their best to make the right play.

Brooks doesn’t realize that closing a game out with Collison or Serge Ibaka at center instead of Perkins is a no-brainer. He doesn’t realize that Ronnie Brewer should be playing instead of Fisher. Even Jeremy Lamb should have been given a shot instead of Fisher.

Brooks is just too hard on some of these young guys. The reason has to be because they aren’t great defensively yet. They don’t always make the right rotations at the right time and don’t appear to be as locked in as Perkins or Fisher is while they’re out there.

It’s something that is really holding back the Thunder this year. They’re not using all of their talents and that’s something you can’t afford to do in this league.

You can’t expect anyone with a personal relationship with Brooks to understand that he is not the man for the job. It’s nearly impossible to be able to have that perspective.

Brooks has served his purpose with the Thunder. He was there with them while they were young and helped them grow up. Now, it’s time to turn over the reins to someone else, someone who can coach a championship team.

Brooks is very far from proving he is a coach that can do that. Soon, it will be Thunder GM Sam Presti’s duty to pull the plug on Brooks.

Maybe it will be after this season, or maybe after the next but it really does feel inevitable at this point.

The Brooks era needs to end. Maybe it could have already had Durant not sent that text.