Scott Brooks: Thunder won't consider tanking this season
Brooks' statement came two days after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban raised the topic in the wake of the Thunder's injury problems, most notably the extended absences of stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Cuban compared Oklahoma City's situation to that of the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs, who lost star center David Robinson for the season in December due to a broken foot and won just 20 games. The Spurs went on to win the draft lottery and selected future franchise cornerstone Tim Duncan with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA draft.
Brooks acknowledged the Thunder are a better team when healthy but said the team's injury issues don't mean that it can't win.
"I don’t really pay much attention to other people’s thoughts on our team," Brooks said, according to SportingNews.com. "I know what we’re about, I know what our organization is about. Everybody has their opinion and they’re entitled to that. Tanking is not something that we will consider.
“I love the group that we have. We would love to have all of our guys back, but that has never been even a consideration. It’s not even — I mean, we’re focused on getting better each day with the group that we have. I love coaching this group, they have always given great effort. We’re not even worried about those things.”
Durant underwent surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot last month and won't be re-evaluated until six weeks from his operation. Westbrook then broke his hand in the second game of the season and is out four to six weeks. Those two players' injuries means the Thunder are missing 50.7 percent of their per-game scoring from last year.
Last week, guard Andre Roberson sprained his foot and forward Perry Jones sustained a contusion in his knee, while forwards Anthony Morrow and Mitch McGary were already injured. Guards Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb also missed time due to injuries, though both have returned. Brooks said Sunday that Morrow and Jones could return soon.
Oklahoma City is 2-5 this season and plays the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
- Ben Estes