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Thunder coaching rumors: Oklahoma City nearing agreement with Billy Donovan to become new Thunder head coach (Update4)

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The Thunder may be on the verge of hiring Florida coach Billy Donovan

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports


Marc Stein reports that the Thunder and Billy Donovan are nearing an agreement:

From Stein's report:

The Oklahoma City Thunder are nearing an agreement with Billy Donovan on a multiyear deal that will make the two-time NCAA title winner their new head coach, according to league sources.

Sources told that an announcement confirming Donovan as the replacement for the ousted Scotty Brooks is likely to come as soon as Thursday or Friday. first reported early Wednesday that the Thunder and the Florida Gators coach had entered into serious dialogue about the position.

Sources say an announcement confirming Billy Donovan as the replacement for the ousted Scotty Brooks is likely to come as soon as Thursday or Friday.

Sources said Wednesday night that only an unforeseen collapse at this stage would prevent the sides from finalizing a deal after two days of advanced negotiations.



Woj reports that the Thunder and Donovan appear to be hammering out the details of his contract in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Florida's Billy Donovan have started discussing the framework of a contract to bring the two-time national championship coach to the NBA, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

There's confidence on both sides that a deal can be reached, but none is yet in place, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti and Donovan met on Tuesday in Gainesville, Fla., and conversations – including contract talks – are continuing on Wednesday, sources said.


Woj recently tweeted that, just as Presti did not consult his players when he fired Scott Brooks, nor has he consulted with them in regards to the choice of a new coach.

While this may seem strange in an age where all-star players frequently provide input for coaching decisions, in fact it is entirely consistent with their past statements. Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have said that they trust their front office 100% and in fact don't require any input in these matters, including in the dismissal of Brooks.


The Thunder are preparing to make an offer to hire Billy Donovan, according to Adrian Wojnarowski:

From Woj's story:

Donovan is the only serious candidate in general manager Sam Presti’s search, and the two-time national championship coach is enthusiastic about the possibility of the job – if terms on a deal can be reached, sources told Yahoo Sports.

It could take a contract worth in the $6 million-a-year range to get Donovan, who makes $4 million-plus annually with no state income tax at Florida.

Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant has reached out to at least one former University of Florida player in the NBA to gain insight into Donovan, league sources told Yahoo Sports and has become generally positive about the potential hiring.


Marc Stein reported early today that the formal discussion between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Florida Gators coach has begun:

Stein reports that his league sources have confirmed what many already suspected - Donovan, the 2 time NCAA championship coach at Florida and long-time friend of GM Sam Presti and the Thunder organization, is at the top of the list to fill the Thunder's coaching vacancy in the wake of Scott Brooks' firing.

Stein writes:

Within NBA coaching circles, Donovan is widely regarded as the clear favorite to succeed Brooks, who made one trip to the NBA Finals and two other trips to the Western Conference finals in his seven seasons as Thunder coach.

Donovan is the first known candidate to talk with the Thunder about the job. It was not immediately clear how many other candidates, if any, Presti plans to sit down with. reported in early April that there was a growing sense among NBA executives that Donovan is more ready to make the jump to the NBA than he has ever been. He also has a very close with relationship with Presti, who has hired two members of Donovan's staff at Florida within the past 12 months to take positions with Oklahoma City -- Mark Daigneault as coach of the Thunder's D-League team and Oliver Winterbone as a data analyst.


Donovan and his family are very entrenched in the university community after his nearly two decades as the coach in Gainesville. Leaving those ties and the college basketball kingdom Donovan has built there, for faraway Oklahoma City, is believed to be the biggest hurdle that could prevent the Thunder from ultimately hiring Donovan, who resisted serious interest this time last year from the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves despite his well-known ambitions for coaching in the NBA someday.

Despite his lack of NBA coaching experience, Donovan is said to appeal to Presti as a candidate because of their similarly meticulous approaches to the job. Presti speaks often of the Thunder's culture and making every move with that culture in mind. With two of his former assistants already there and a relationship with Presti already established, Donovan would appear to be the best available fit for that culture after former Thunder guard and current Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie withdrew last week from consideration.

We will continue to report the story as it develops.