Thursday April 16th, 2015

After the Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs on the final day of the season, both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook stepped up to defend coach Scott Brooks.

Amid reports Brooks is on the hot seat as Thunder management evaluate their options for next season, the injured Durant spoke candidly, citing the adversity the team faced all season and Brooks' effectiveness in the locker room.

Russell Westbrook, also still upset about missing the playoffs, made a point of backing Brooks as well. Players remained positive and focused on beginning next season with a healthy group, after Durant missed most of the season with a broken foot and Serge Ibaka missed the final 18 games after having knee surgery.

Brooks told reporters he planned to be back for another run next season. The off-season poses an especially critical juncture as next season will be the final year of Durant's contract. Westbrook's deal will be up a year after that.

"I expect to be the coach,” Brooks told "Proud to be the coach of this organization. Love being here. I expect to be the coach here next season."

"In the business of sports, there’s always going to be speculation," Brooks said. "You have to be able to do your job regardless of what is out there. I’m proud to be here. I’m excited about the talent that we have here."

NBA Playoff Central: schedules, matchups, analysis

The Thunder hold a team option on Brooks for the 2016-17 season. He was the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2012, and led the Thunder to the finals with Durant and Westbrook in 2010.

Jeremy Woo

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.