With Scott Brooks officially out in Oklahoma City, the focus now shifts to his replacement. A handful of names have been thrown out there, but who’s the most likely candidate to become the next head coach of the Thunder?
A former Thunder player, apparently.
“Look, its (Kevin) Ollie’s job if he wants it,” SheridanHoops.com NBA insider Chris Sheridan said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s got a $5 million buyout with UConn. That’s not going to be a problem. You’re going to see the coaching salary scale jump up, and Kevin Ollie could jump into that job and be the highest-paid coach in the NBA. It’s a question of does he want it?”
Why would Ollie not want it? Sure, Connecticut is a great program and he won a national title there last year, but why would he not want to coach in the NBA? Why would he not want to coach Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook?
“He’s an NBA guy,” Sheridan confirmed. “He’s played on a lot of teams. He was involved in the Players Association. The NBA is where he spent most of his career. I’m not quite sure why he wouldn’t want the job unless he thought it’s a fait accompli that Kevin Durant is going to leave. Then he’s going to walk into a job where Kevin Durant’s going to leave in one year, and then Russell Westbrook’s going to leave in two years and then you’re just going to be coaching a carcass. I think Kevin has to make the determination what’s going to go on with those two superstars in Oklahoma City, and do I want to go into that job knowing that I’m going to lose my two best players over the next two years? I think that’s probably as good of an indication as any if Kevin doesn’t take the job. The prevailing belief is that Kevin’s going to leave and then Russell’s going to leave after him.”
While we don’t know whether Ollie will coach the Thunder, we do know that Rajon Rondo has played his last game in a Mavericks uniform. The mercurial point guard has clashed with Rick Carlisle since being acquired from Boston in December and likely cost himself tens of millions of dollars as a result.
Where he’ll end up, nobody knows. Rondo turned 29 in February, has a reconstructed knee and has been in the dog house with two of the NBA’s most respected coaches.
Not exactly a great branding strategy.
“I think it’s going to depend on what happens with the big names,” Sheridan said of Rondo’s eventual landing spot. “What happens with the big names? What happens with Marc Gasol? Does he leave Memphis? What happens with LaMarcus Aldridge? Does he leave Portland? Where does Rondo start to fall in the tier of unrestricted free agents and who really needs a point guard?”
Well, the Knicks could use a point guard.
“Does Phil Jackson think that Rondo would be a good fit in the triangle?” Sheridan asked. “That’s something that’s probably going to be determined by where the Knicks land in the draft, if they’re going to be able to get Willie Cauley-Stein or Jahlil Okafor. If not, are they going to draft Emmanuel Mudiay at the point? And if not, would they want to take a chance on a guy like Rondo? Rondo may be willing to take a shorter deal. Certainly this was not what he was setting himself up for.
“When you turn 30, you want to get the longest deal you can get,” Sheridan continued. “I’m sure Rondo wanted to get a five-year deal that would take him all the way to age 35. But he’s played himself out of at least $40 million. I don’t see anybody giving him more than a two-year deal because he’s just so (volatile). You want to be able to cut your losses. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation like Detroit was with Josh Smith where they owed him all that money . . . and they just ended up waiving him.
“I think the Lakers will take a hard look at him. Rondo is tight with Kobe. And I think the Knicks will take a hard look at him and talk to people who have been around Rondo and see if he’s salvageable. There’s no arguing with the fact that Rajon had a hell of a lot of success early in his career.”
Yeah, the guy helped Boston to an NBA title in 2008 – at the age of 22.
“He was the motor that made that Boston Celtics team go,” Sheridan said. “Everybody (talks) about the Big Three, but Rondo was just as important to that team as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. But this is devastating from a financial standpoint because he didn’t have a max contract. The expectation was that when Dallas got him, Dallas was going to want to keep him long-term. But it ended badly there. And now he goes on to the market and he’s damaged goods.
“Maybe somebody picks up a bargain, but most tigers don’t change their stripes. If this guy is going to be too difficult to coach, no one’s going to want to lock him up for four years. I don’t see a four-year contract being offered to him.”