- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Several days after an agreement was reached, the Washington Wizards announced on Tuesday that Scott Brooks would become the organization’s 24th coach.

Brooks becomes the fifth coach to work for team president and general manager Ernie Grunfeld during Grunfeld’s 13 seasons with the organization. He replaces Randy Wittman, who was fired immediately after a 41-41 season closed without a playoff appearance on April 13, ending Wittman’s four-plus seasons as coach of the Wizards.

Scott was our top candidate and we moved quickly on an agreement to make him our head coach,” Grunfeld said in a statement released by the team. “His presence, the core players we have returning and our cap flexibility this summer have us all looking forward to the possibilities of what our team can accomplish.”

Brooks, 50, joins the Wizards after a year out of the NBA. He coached the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009 through 2015, when he was fired following a 45-37 record. Kevin Durant played just 27 games that season, with the Thunder missing the playoffs for the first time with Brooks in charge for a full season.

“I am beyond thrilled to return to coaching with a team that is filled with such potential and to be able to join an organization that is committed to helping us reach our goals,” Brooks said in that statement. “I’m very grateful to Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld for this opportunity and I can promise the great fans of Washington that we will work extremely hard both on and off the court to represent them in a manner fitting the most powerful city in the world.”

While in Oklahoma City, Brooks developed a reputation as a defense-first coach who could develop young players. He was named the NBA’s coach of the year in 2010. He has career coaching record of 338-207, a .620 win percentage. The Wizards have only four seasons in franchise history of a .620 or better winning percentage. The last time was in 1979. That year, they lost in the NBA Finals.

Scott’s approach to the game, track record for player development and ability to communicate with his players made him the clear-cut choice to guide our team as we continue to rise as contenders in the Eastern Conference,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said in that statement. “His accomplishments as a coach are matched only by his sterling reputation around the league and we’re confident that our fans and players alike will embrace and support him as he leads the way.”

Brooks will be introduced in a press conference on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Grunfeld and Leonsis are scheduled to accompany him, making a rare instance where the owner, general manager and coach will be speaking with the media.
Grunfeld has said the team’s style of play going forward will be determined by the new coach. Wittman’s shift to a pace-and-space offensive approach last season led to slight increase in scoring last season, but a significant step back in defense and rebounding.

Brooks also has a notable relationship with Durant, whom the Wizards have aligned almost every roster move of their last three seasons around. Durant will be a free agent on July 1 and Washington has the cap space to offer him a maximum contract, though the chances of him signing with Washington are viewed as low.

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