Brooks likely to become head coach

The interim tag on Thunder coach Scott Brooks' title could be lifted.

General manager Sam Presti is leaning toward making Brooks the team's full-time coach, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. The decision, however, isn't expected to be made before the end of the season, allowing the front office time to continue evaluating Brooks and his staff over the final 40 games.

Presti, staying consistent with statements he's made since firing P.J. Carlesimo on Nov. 21, said his focus remains on this season and Brooks will have the opportunity to earn the job through his performance over the remainder of the year.

"We are pleased with the job that Scott has done," Presti said Sunday night. "He has shown a great commitment to the Thunder and has brought energy to the task at hand. Scott and I are constantly communicating, and we're both really focused on our players and the continued growth of the team. As we have discussed, we will evaluate the next steps for the Thunder at the end of the season."

Retaining Brooks would make sense, because the up-and-coming coach commands a cheaper salary than currently unemployed veteran coaches Jeff Van Gundy, Avery Johnson and Flip Saunders. Bringing back Brooks also would maintain continuity within the organization and prevent the team from having to start over again with a new coach and a new philosophy.

Sunday night's 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat dropped the Thunder to 7-22 under Brooks, but the team has shown significant improvement of late, winning three of the past four before Sunday night and two straight against Utah and Detroit.

Brooks, who said he hasn't been informed of which direction Presti will go, also has won over the Thunder's locker room. Several players openly endorse his return, citing his positive demeanor through what's been a trying season.

Since Brooks' first game as interim coach on Nov. 22 at New Orleans, the mood in the locker room has been noticeably lighter, and players have been more relaxed in practices over the past two months.

"The way we're playing now is the best we've played throughout the whole season," said Jeff Green. "He's gotten us to the point where we can play against any team. But he's just been positive...I think he's worked hard for the spot if he gets it, so my vote is behind him."

Brooks said Sunday night that he's settling into the job after getting over what he called "odd emotions of taking over for P.J."

"I'm getting comfortable in my role, but I know I have to continue to get better like our team has to continue to get better," Brooks said. "It's an opportunity for me to improve every game...It's a challenging position, but it's a position that every assistant coach dreams about."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 21, 2009