Oklahoma City Fires Scott Brooks, Source Says Kevin Ollie is 'Listening' (UPDATED) | Zagsblog
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Thursday / May 19.
  • Oklahoma City Fires Scott Brooks, Source Says Kevin Ollie is ‘Listening’ (UPDATED)

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder fired coach Scott Brooks on Wednesday, and a source close to the situation said UConn coach Kevin Ollie is “listening.”

    “Ollie is listening and any coach would,” the source told SNY.tv.

    The source added: “OKC has been trying to get Ollie to leave for a year. He is loyal to UConn and loves his job but if KD [Kevin Durant] and Russ [Westbrook] want him there to make a run at a title, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. He won’t pass it up.”

    The same source told SNY.tv before Brooks was fired that Ollie was being “seriously considered” for the job.

    “We have a deep appreciation for all that Scott has contributed to the Thunder organization over the last seven years,” Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett said in a statement on the team’s Website. “He helped us build the foundation of this team and led us to much success. While a very hard decision, I support the need to transition to a new coach that will allow us to continue the growth and progress that will help us reach all of our goals. We wish Scott and his family only the best as he moves forward.”

    Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the Brooks firing.

    Earlier Wednesday, Ollie issued a statement in response to the initial SNY.tv story.

    “As I have said many times, I am proud and honored to be the head basketball coach at the University of Connecticut and I have no plans to pursue other opportunities,” he said.

    “We are already excited about next season and I am looking forward to preparing our team to be the best we can be on the court, in the classroom, and in our community.”

    Still, the SNY.tv source said Tuesday night that Oklahoma City “believes in Ollie” and “he’s their No. 1 target.”

    “There is no formal offer on the table, but he’s first in line,” the source said. “Oklahoma City is fully committed to trying to get him to commit.”

    Though Ollie has a $5 million buyout, the source said the buyout is “nothing” if the Thunder are committed to landing him.

    Wojnarowski listed Florida coach Billy Donovan as a “serious candidate” to replace Brooks. Donovan won back-to-back NCAA titles with Florida in 2006-7 and at one time signed on to coach the Orlando Magic, only to later change his mind. Lately reports have indicated Donovan is interested in returning to the NBA.

    And yet while Donovan is a great coach, “he doesn’t have the credibility or relationship with Russ or Kevin Durant,” the source told SNY.tv.

    92754804Ollie teamed with Durant and Westbrook in Oklahoma City and remains close with GM Sam Presti. Ollie is considered to be one of the keys to convincing Durant to remain in Oklahoma City after he enters free agency in 2016, although no one can know for certain what Durant’s plans are, the source said.

    The Thunder missed the playoffs this season for the first time in six years in part because Durant played in only 27 games due to injury. During that time, Westbrook emerged as a serious MVP candidate.

    Durant is clearly a supporter of Ollie’s.

    “Kevin Ollie, he was a game-changer for us,” Durant told ESPN’s Bill Simmons on the B.S. Report in 2014. “He changed the whole culture, I think. He might not say it, but I think he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City.”

    Could Ollie change that culture again by balancing the Durant/Westbrook situation one more time?

    “Whose team is it?” the source asked. “Who gets the ball at the end of the game and how do you keep both guys happy? This isn’t Lebron and D-Wade. Neither Russ nor KD are willing to be Robin. Both of these guys are coming out dressed as Batman. If they can’t get a coach KD feels can properly manage this dynamic, he is out.”

    In May 2014, Ollie agreed to a five-year contract extension at UConn worth $15 million. Prior to that, he had been linked to coaching jobs with the Thunder, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

    “He had an opportunity [with OKC] last year, it never got to a formal offer,” the source said. “OKC made an effort to convince Ollie to come last season and he said no.”


    Photo: Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.