The Washington Wizards missed the playoffs this year despite qualifying for the postseason last year and sweeping the formidable Toronto Raptors in their first-round series, resulting in the firing of Randy Wittman, who’d been calling the shots sine 2012. It’s no secret that the Wizards will make the push of a lifetime to try to convince hometown hero Kevin Durant, who will be a free agent this off-season, to leave the only team he’s ever been with (Oklahoma City) to bring his career and hopefully a championship home to Washington D.C.
They’re off to a good start, as the team announced today that Scott Brooks, the former coach of the Thunder and the only pro coach Kevin Durant had ever played for prior to the 2015-2016 season, has signed a deal making him the new Wizards head coach.
If you’re a fan of the Thunder, or at least a fan of Kevin Durant staying in Oklahoma City, this should make you cringe just a tad. Though the Thunder were never able to win a championship during Brooks’ tenure, his defensive prowess and willingness to let his two stars, Russell Westbrook and KD, go into iso-ball mode where they saw fit, helped the Thunder become one of the most dangerous teams of the 2010’s, including an NBA Finals appearance in 2012. Durant won his first and only regular season MVP award with Brooks as his head coach, and he had this to say about the newly-minted Wizards coach when it was announced last summer that he’d been relieved of his duties in Oklahoma City.
Today was tough for me. While I support our team’s decision 100% and look forward to the upcoming season and the future in OKC, Scotty was my friend and a coach for the past seven seasons. We accomplished a lot together, and those times will never be taken away from us. I grew as both a man and a ball player under his guidance and for that I will forever be grateful. I wish nothing but the best for him and his family who have also been such a big part of this city and organization. I know he will be very successful in wherever his next steps in life are.
Regardless of the results of KD’s impending decision, Brooks will undoubtedly have the tools for success in Washington. He’s got John Wall, one of the best point guards in the league, to run the offense, and an above-average supporting cast, including three very promising young wing players in Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Otto Porter Jr., a strong interior in Nene and Marcin Gortat, and an inside-out playmaker in Markieff Morris.
However, this will certainly add pressure to Durant’s decision-making process, especially if the Thunder’s playoff run doesn’t culminate in the hoisting of the Larry O’Brien trophy.