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Report: Thunder have pursued Kevin Ollie for a year

Kevin Ollie

Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie and his team react late in the second half of their 62-54 loss to SMU in an NCAA college basketball game in the finals of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Hartford, Conn., Sunday, March 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)


Thunder general manager Sam Presti went out his way to say he didn’t fire Scott Brooks due to this season.

But if this season – which was marred by injuries and ended outside the playoffs – wasn’t the excuse to dump Brooks, why did Brooks get to coach it in the first place?

Maybe because the Thunder couldn’t get their preferred choice: UConn coach Kevin Ollie.
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 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.”

Brooks came on the hot seat last year, when Ollie was a hot coaching prospect who’d just led Connecticut to the national title. Oklahoma City stuck with Brooks before firing him now.

If the Thunder liked Ollie so much last year, there’s little reason to like him less now.

Ollie has said he’s not pursuing other jobs, but he’s reportedly still interested in the Thunder vacancy. Kevin Durant – who has frequently spoken highly of Ollie, a former teammate – would probably be on board.

Of course, it’s not just a matter of Durant wanting Ollie. Durant will become a free agent in 2016. Does Ollie want to risk leaving a good job for a team that could lose its best player after only one season?

It sounds as if the Thunder want to find out.