This week at NBC Sports Washington, we are looking at the five biggest storylines for the Washington Wizards as they get set for 2019-20 training camp, which begins next week. Today, a look at Scott Brooks' future...
As the Wizards get set for a transition year, one in which they hope to make progress in player development with an eye on the long-term, a major question is whether their timeline to win matches up with some of the holdovers. Bradley Beal is the most obvious one, but head coach Scott Brooks can be included for some of the same reasons.
Traditionally, a team in the Wizards' current state probably wouldn't have a coach like Brooks, one that has the resume he has and the salary to match. He is used to coaching playoff teams going back to his days in Oklahoma City and, with two years and $14 million remaining on his contract, he makes considerably more money than a lot of coaches would if they were hired to coach a young team predicted by most to fall short of the postseason.
With Beal, it's about what he thinks and how he views the big picture because the Wizards clearly want him to be part of it. With Brooks, there are reasons to point to on both sides for why the partnership isn't as great a fit as it once was when he first took the job.
That makes Brooks' future extra interesting as it pertains to this season in particular. By the end of it, the Brooks dynamic could go several different ways.
There is a chance it could work out well, of course. There are a few examples around the league of accomplished coaches sitting through transition periods of varying lengths. You can look at Rick Carlisle of the Mavericks, Doc Rivers of the Clippers to a certain extent and now Alvin Gentry of the Pelicans.
Brooks could find fulfillment in overseeing the development of the Wizards' bevy of young prospects. It is pivotal for the Wizards' future to see progress in guys like Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr., their last two first-round picks. If any number of the recent draft picks on their roster can emerge, the Wizards could take a big step forward the following season either with them on the roster or as trade assets.
Brooks came to Washington with a reputation for being good at player development, but so far has a checkered history of trusting young players with minutes. Last year, he deserved credit for Thomas Bryant's emergence but also took criticism for not playing Brown even when it seemed likely he could help.
Though it may not seem like it in the context of his career, Brooks has an opportunity in 2019-20 to prove his worth as an NBA coach. If he can guide the Wizards to a season that exceeds expectations, it could extend his career in Washington. It could also help his cause in landing another job.
Coaches going into the final years of their contracts is not a common occurrence in sports. They then get the 'lame duck' label and questions, fair or not, arise about their leverage with players. Mike D'Antoni of the Rockets is about to serve out the final year of his deal, but it is unusual.
After this season, the Wizards and Brooks will have to take a look at their options. Either side could decide it is time to part ways. The Wizards could fire him or he could broker a mutual parting to coach somewhere else like Mike Budenholzer did with the Hawks to join the Bucks last summer.
The Brooks storyline is one that likely won't be in the forefront this season unless things go truly terrible for the Wizards. But whether the question is in the background or not, it remains a question whether Brooks will be coaching the Wizards beyond this season.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS: