When Ernie Grunfeld went to meet Scott Brooks with the hopes of luring him to coach the Wizards, his directives from owner Ted Leonsis were clear: Don't come back until you have an agreement.
Wednesday, the Wizards introduced Brooks, who signed a five-year, $35 million deal, as the replacement for Randy Wittman after a 41-41 season without a playoff appearance for the first time in three years.
“We felt like he was the perfect coach for our situation," Grunfeld said. "His record speaks for itself. He’s been where we want to be, where we want to go to. The other thing we love about him is he developed young players."
This will be the second head coaching job for Brooks, 338-207 in six-plus seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder that included three trips to the Western Conference finals and one trip to the NBA Finals.
Brooks played for six teams from 1988-98, including an NBA championship as role player off the bench for the Houston Rockets, had a career average of 4.9 points and 45% shooting.
It's his relationship building with players that's as coveted as any of his other skills, having guided Kevin Durant, Russell Westbook and James Harden early in their careers.
"I've been competing against this team for a lot of years," Brooks said. "This day and age with NBA teams, you need two-way players to compete night in and night out. I have very simple rules and I always establish from the very start, 'Your job is to play hard every night. The second job you have to do is play hard for your teammates. That's who you're playing for every night. You have to establish those goals early on. I believe the character of the group will embrace that."