Retaining star players in today's NBA is not as easy as the Wizards have made it look over the past two summers with max contracts signed by John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, and head coach Scott Brooks is no stranger to the other side of the equation.
Before taking over as coach of the Wizards, Brooks spent seven years leading the Oklahoma City Thunder. They rose very quickly to reach the NBA Finals in 2012, his fourth season on the job. But not long after that their core was dismantled, first by the trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets, a casualty of the salary cap. Last summer, one year after Brooks had been dismissed, OKC traded Serge Ibaka and saw Kevin Durant sign with the Golden State Warriors in free agency. That's three very good players the Thunder had drafted and developed who left all in just a few years time.
In re-signing their core three, the Wizards are establishing an era of continuity other teams may covet. Under their current deals, Wall, Beal and Porter are ensured of playing at least seven total seasons together, eight if Porter doesn't exercise his player option for 2020-21. Wall is under contract through the 2022-23 season, what will be his 13th in the NBA.
"It's not easy to keep all of your players. I know that pretty well without getting into details. It's not easy to draft good players, either," Brooks said, alluding to his days in Oklahoma City.
Brooks continued without naming names.
"It's critical that your star players want to stay and play for the team. Without getting into the details that you all are well aware of, like in this past summer, that's not always the case. We have our three players that we drafted all wanting to stay here and stay long-term. That's good. That's good because if you don't have your best players wanting to stay here, then nobody wants to stay here. But we have John committed... I love guys that care for their team and John does care for his team."
There are, of course, some differences between the Wizards and Brooks' Thunder. That Oklahoma City Thunder team got to the conference finals and finals before Harden left and they made another conference finals before Durant and Ibaka were gone. Harden was an unusal case as a budding superstar who was worth of running his own team. And by the time of Durant's exit, he had already played nine seasons for the Thunder franchise, as many as Beal and Porter have played in the NBA combined.
But the point still stands that the Wizards are an anomaly in keeping their best players. Convincing a star to stay home is not easy, just ask the Pacers, Clippers or Jazz.
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