The firing of team president Ernie Grunfeld has left the Wizards head coach in limbo. Scott Brooks is nearing the end of his third year in Washington with no certainty about whether he will be back for a fourth.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has indicated that Brooks' future will be left up to the team's next general manager and that is despite the fact he has two years and $14 million remaining on his contract. A new regime could choose to part ways with Brooks and start over from scratch.
It's possible that a new GM without any ties at all to Brooks could choose to retain him, at least for another year to evaluate his job performance along with the rest of the organization. But it would seem much more likely Brooks sticks around if the team's new architect has a history with him.
If interim GM Tommy Sheppard is given the job on a full-time basis, that would be very good news for Brooks. Sheppard was part of the brain trust that hired Brooks in the summer of 2016. He helped conduct the hours-long interviews before he was offered the job.
There are other possible candidates for the GM position that have a prior relationship with Brooks. Troy Weaver, for example, is the No. 2 guy in Oklahoma City and was with the Thunder during Brooks' entire head coaching tenure there.
Brooks has been in the NBA as a player or coach for 25 years. He knows many people in the game of basketball, is well-liked and respected.
That, of course, alone will not save Brooks' job. Leonsis was non-committal about Brooks' future this week when asked what Grunfeld's departure means for the head coaching position.
"Well, right now all I've done is remove Ernie from the day-to-day," Leonsis said. "I've spent one-on-one time with Scott just to tell him that I expect us to work hard and play hard and continue to give the fans their money's worth."
When asked about Brooks, Leonsis gave a long and winding answer about how every part of the organization will be evaluated and that includes how much money they have allocated to certain areas.
"Maybe I made mistakes in the ways we spent and invested our money. I have to be open-minded," he said.
That could be taken as a nod to the investment he's made in Brooks, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract to join the Wizards in 2016. At the time, that made him one of the six highest-paid coaches in the NBA.
Now, there is no turning back on that contract at this point. In order to fire Brooks, the Wizards would have to buy him out. But it's possible the new GM advises Leonsis to put fewer financial resources into the head coaching job and that could lead to an early dismissal of Brooks. Also, if they determine a roster rebuild is necessary, it could make sense for both sides to part ways.
Brooks understands all of the potential scenarios and has been fired before. He is not naive to the fact his future is currently up in the air.
"I've been in the league long enough to know that your job is to do your job until you don't have the job," he said. "I know in this league it's a result-producing job."
Brooks, of course, would like to stay and see this job through. He said after Thursday's practice he looks forward to building a relationship with the new GM in the coming weeks and months.
Whether he will get that opportunity remains to be seen. For now, all he can do is keep doing his job and operate as if he will be back.
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