Report: Billy Donovan a ‘serious candidate’ to coach Oklahoma City Thunder

By Adam Silverstein
April 16, 2015

Should the Oklahoma City Thunder decide to move on from head coach Scott Brooks, whose partnership with the team is currently being “evaluated” by executives, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan “could emerge as a serious candidate” to be his replacement, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

Brooks has gone 545-338 in seven years with the organization, finishing first in the Northwest Division in four straight seasons and making the playoffs in five consecutive campaigns. But Oklahoma City has yet to win an NBA title under Brooks and the team is facing some tough decisions in 2015-16 with injured superstar Kevin Durant’s health and contract situation both major concerns for the franchise.

Brooks, who is beloved by Durant, many of the Thunder players and a number of executives within the organization, is guaranteed through 2015-16 with a team option for 2016-17, but Oklahoma City may choose to go in a different “organizational direction” ahead of a season of change for the franchise, reports Wojnarowski.

With “several league sources close to Brooks [having] doubts about his job security,” Wojnarowski further reports that Donovan “could emerge as a serious candidate” for the job due to his “longstanding friendship” with general manager Sam Presti.

It has long been known that the Thunder job is one of a handful of especially interesting NBA opportunities for Donovan, who would only leave the Gators – and a close friend and trusted partner in athletic director Jeremy Foley – for a position where he felt an equal level of trust with management.

Donovan is not as close with Presti as he is with Foley, certainly, but a relationship has been forged, and it has long led to rumors about Donovan being interested in Oklahoma City should the organization move on from Brooks.

The Thunder have already hired two former Gators staffers and have long shown their respect for Donovan and his coaching methods.

This report also comes less than 24 hours after Florida signed the final two players in its 2015 recruiting class to National Letters of Intent and less than 72 hours after the Gators announced the return of assistant coach Anthony Grant.


  1. 1974Gator says:

    I’m torn. One half says “go Billy, spread your wings and fly to the NBA” while the other says “one more year Billy, leave on a positive note”. Not sure what to think about Grant. I thought he was the obvious choice when Donovan left for Orlando but his time in Bama did not impress me. That said, if Anthony can’t win with our new roster I’d be surprised.

  2. BRLgator says:

    If Billy wants to test the NBA waters I cant picture him getting a better opportunity than in OKC (even with Durant and Westbrook nearing FA). If you want it Billy, go get it…

  3. Timmy T says:

    Best of luck to you if you decide to leave, Billy. That said, PLEASE don’t go.

  4. uf_84 says:

    I can’t imagine why he would want to deal with the immense pressure to win at the pro level. Look at the great job Brooks did and yet he’s still probably about to be fired. Maybe he’s just burned out here at UF and needs to try something new. I’d really hate to see him leave, but if he does I wish him nothing but the best. There’s no way I could ever have anything but respect and gratitude for the incredible job he did as our coach. Best coach ever in the history of UF athletics IMO.

    Foley will have a tough decision to make as far as who to hire next. Grant, Pelfery, or Shaka.

    • Smart was hired by Texas.

    • BRLgator says:

      Billy D wouldnt be fazed by the immense pressure. Coaches at Billy’s level thrive on that pressure. As far as brooks goes, he isnt half the coach that Billy D is. He is probably bottom 5 (at worst bottom) coaches in the NBA. His best coaching job was this year with an injury depleted team but thus far has looked out coached whenever his team has been at full strength.

      I hope Billy stays, UF could be looking at some dark days if he leaves…

  5. Mike The Red says:

    “Should the Oklahoma City Thunder decide to move on from head coach Scott Brooks,..Billy Donovan ‘could emerge as a serious candidate’…”

    Folks… it is way too early to be having this discussion. Billy Donovan will be be considered a candidate for any open NBA position. Any time. Any where.

    I think that this is something to fill up space on a slow news day.

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