ESPN reports that the Oklahoma City Thunder have “commenced formal discussions” with Florida coach Billy Donovan about their coaching vacancy.
Donovan has been listed as the Thunder’s preferred coach since they fired Scott Brooks a week ago, as reported by CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger when OKC canned its coach. It provides them with a high-profile hire with a wider offensive conceptual background to try and improve the Thunder’s crunch time execution. How Donovan fits with the NBA in regards to managing egos, a seven-game series adjustment requirement, the increased athleticism, and the pressure of winning with a Finals-ready squad anchored by former MVP Kevin Durant, who is set to be a free agent in a year is another question.
But it does appear that the Thunder are headed in that direction rapidly, seeking to hire Donovan to replace Brooks in short order. Donovan, along with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, is considered the top of potential coaching candidates from the college ranks. With this speed with which these discussions have accelerated, it’s likely that Donovan was GM Sam Presti’s choice prior to firing Brooks. It’s a big gamble, but one the team felt it needed to make.
We’ll see if they can come to an agreement that will pull Donovan from the safe and secure job at Florida to the NBA, where making the Western Conference Finals three out of five years gets you fired for a college coach with no NBA experience.