Oklahoma City’s search to replace Scott Brooks is now completely focused on Billy Donovan, and multiple sources told CBSSports.com that, at this point, the most likely scenario has the two-time national champion leaving Florida to coach the Thunder.
CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger reported last week, not long after Brooks was fired, that “all signs” in Oklahoma City were pointing toward Donovan. ESPN.com then reported early Wednesday that Donovan has conducted formal talks with OKC. Yahoo! Sports later described Donovan as “enthusiastic” about a possible move and added that Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti is preparing an offer for the three-time SEC Coach of the Year.
Donovan has been at Florida since 1996. The 49-year old has won six SEC regular-season titles, four SEC Tournaments, made four Final Fours and claimed national titles in both 2006 and 2007. He’s coached several current NBA players — among them Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Brad Beal, Corey Brewer, Mike Miller, Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons.
Multiple sources have told CBSSports.com that Donovan’s been intrigued about a possible jump to the NBA for at least a couple of years, and that he somewhat considered moving last year when the Cleveland Cavaliers pursued him. But a combination of not quite feeling comfortable with the situation in Cleveland — remember, this was before LeBron James’ announcement — and a Florida team projected to rank in the top 10 of most preseason polls was enough to keep Donovan in Gainesville for a 19th season.
Simply put, this is an entirely different deal.
Donovan is now coming off a subpar season at Florida, in possession of a roster that won’t be ranked next preseason, and suddenly on the verge of being presented with an opportunity to, in Oklahoma City, coach two of the world’s elite talents in Kevin Durant and Russ Westbrook. For those reasons and more, a move to Oklahoma City seems more likely than not, sources told CBSSports.com, provided, of course, that OKC and Donovan can agree on financial terms. He makes $4 million per year at Florida.