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April 26, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Wizards have announced the hiring of Scott Brooks as their new head coach, replacing Randy Wittman.

Brooks reached a five-year agreement with the team last week. He will be introduced at a news conference Wednesday.

As coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooks went 338-207 in seven seasons and helped develop Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook into perennial All-Stars. He led the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012.

''Scott's approach to the game, track record for player development and ability to communicate with his players made him the clear-cut choice,'' owner Ted Leonsis said.

Washington general manager Ernie Grunfeld was looking for a strong defensive coach, and Brooks brings that. The Wizards ranked 21st in the league defensively in Wittman's final season, allowing 104.6 points a game.

Grunfeld said Brooks was the organization's top candidate. The Wizards hired him before the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves or Los Angeles Lakers could fill their coaching vacancies.

''His presence, the core players we have returning and our cap flexibility this summer have us all looking forward to the possibilities of what our team can accomplish,'' Grunfeld said.

Brooks, the NBA's coach of the year in 2009-10, has a good relationship with Durant, too. Durant will be a free agent this summer.

''Happy for Scotty,'' Durant said last week in Dallas. ''Glad he's back in the NBA. Great coach, someone that I really got to know and appreciate.''

Durant wouldn't speculate on the Wizards hiring Brooks in part to help lure him back to the Washington area, where he grew up.

Brooks said he was ''beyond thrilled'' to return to coaching after he was fired by the Thunder after the 2014-15 season.

He inherits a roster that includes star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. Washington missed the playoffs this season after making it to the second round the past two years.

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AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed to this report.

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