The Washington Wizards will join a slew of other teams this offseason looking for a new head coach. The team is parting ways with Scott Brooks on Wednesday, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, as the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on a new deal. Brooks' contract expired this season, and his job has been in question over the past couple seasons after several disappointing finishes out in D.C.
In Brooks' five seasons with the Wizards, he finished with a 183-207 record, while making the postseason three of those times. Injuries over the years to star players like John Wall, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook have greatly impacted Washington's ability to remain competitive consistently, but the Wizards have felt that it's time to bring in a new voice for a team that will try to get back to the postseason next year. Brooks isn't the first head coach to lose his job Wednesday, as the New Orleans Pelicans moved on from Stan Van Gundy earlier in the day.
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Early candidates to replace Brooks for the Washington position include Wes Unseld Jr., Sam Cassell, Becky Hammon, Kenny Atkinson and Mark Jackson, per NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes.
Brooks not returning to the Wizards seems more like a natural parting of ways more than anything else. The coach has received praise from both Westbrook and Beal on numerous occasions, including when the team was bounced from the first round of the playoffs last month.
"I don't see why Scott should go anywhere," Westbrook said, while also mentioning "he's done a hell of a job" given the circumstances of the Wizards season. Washington started the first month and half of this season with a 6-17 record after injuries and COVID-19 protocols impacted the roster. However, as Westbrook and Beal began to build some chemistry and the team started to get healthy again, the Wizards went on an eight-game win streak in April, which catapulted them in position for a play-in spot. A blowout win against the Pacers in the play-in tournament secured their playoff spot, but both Westbrook and Beal battled injuries in Washington's first-round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
As spirited as Washington's push was toward the end of the season, it's time for a new coach to step in and see if they can push this squad led by Beal and Westbrook to a deeper run in the playoffs. Whoever takes the Wizards job will be under some pressure as Beal's future with the franchise has always been in question despite the fact that the guard said he doesn't want to play anywhere else on multiple occasions.
But Beal is entering the final guaranteed year of a two-year contract extension he signed in 2019 and has the ability to opt out of the final year on the deal in 2022-23, though the team reportedly intends to sign him to an extension this offseason. If the 2021-22 season doesn't go to plan for the All-Star shooting guard, then he could be looking to play elsewhere.