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Thunder, Billy Donovan agree to 5 year deal to be head coach in Oklahoma City (Update)

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The Thunder have reportedly come to terms with Billy Donovan to make him the new head coach of the Thunder.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports


The Thunder issued a press release with comments from Sam Presti, owner Clay Bennett, and Billy Donovan.

“We are thrilled to welcome Billy and his family to the Oklahoma City Thunder organization. When we began the process of identifying the next head coach of the Thunder, we started with a vision and the identifiable qualities that we felt were necessary for our organization as well as the ever evolving role of the head coach in today's NBA. We wanted to identify a person with the traits associated with high achieving leaders in their respective fields; a continuous learning mentality, the ability to adapt, evolve and innovate, intrinsically motivated, humility, and great tactical competence," Presti said. "While we created a comprehensive analysis regarding the qualities we were looking for, it became quite evident that Billy was the ideal fit for the Thunder as we look to transition our team into the future. Billy has achieved an incredible level of success and experience within his 21 years as a head coach and has shown the unique ability to not only create but sustain an elite program. His emotional intelligence, commitment to the concept of team, and relentless approach to incremental improvement have allowed him to bring his players together and establish lasting relationships through competitive success. Billy's core values and alignment with our culture and community, as well as his proven tactical abilities, make him an ideal addition to the Thunder organization." ‎

"We warmly welcome Billy and his family to Oklahoma City," said Clayton I. Bennett, Thunder Chairman. "He is the perfect fit for our organization and for our community and we look forward to a long and successful relationship."

Donovan released the following statement:

"I am honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation," said Billy Donovan, Thunder Head Coach. "The Thunder represents so many of the values that I embrace as a head coach; the commitment to the team above oneself, the dedicated pursuit of excellence, the commitment to organizational culture, the identity they have established and the fact that the Thunder and the community are so intricately woven into the fabric of one another. To have the ability to work with such a talented and high character group of players is also rare, and I am excited to forge ahead creating those relationships. It is of course bittersweet as the University of Florida will always hold a very special place in my heart and in my family's. I've had the good fortune of working with the best athletic director in the country in Jeremy Foley over the last 19 years, and I'll be forever grateful and thankful for the opportunity and his friendship. Countless players, students, and other people in the administration were responsible for our success and for the meaningful connection we had with the Gainesville community. I have a deep appreciation for what the University of Florida will always mean to me and I'll forever be a Gator."


Billy Donovan is the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to various reports.

From Wojnarowski's story:

Billy Donovan has agreed to a five-year deal to become head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

After 19 years and two national titles at the University of Florida, Donovan is leaving for the NBA.

The expectations for Donovan are immediate and massive: He must help convince Kevin Durant to sign a long-term extension with the Thunder, and push an immensely talented roster toward its first championship.

Durant, the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player, can become a free agent in the summer of 2016.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti has long targeted Donovan to replace the deposed Scott Brooks, and was the only candidate he pursued, sources told Yahoo Sports.

The hiring of Donovan ends the last few days of speculation following the firing of Scott Brooks on April 22. While other names had been tossed about in reporting and social media, it was clear from the beginning that Presti had his sights set on his long time colleague. Indeed, the building blocks had been laid in place for some time.

One of the largest hurdles for the Donovan hiring was getting fully up to speed on what he has to work with and what he needs by June 25th.... Draft day.

Two of Donovan's former staff are Mark Daigneault and Oliver Winterbone. Currently, Daigneault is the head coach of the Blue and will have Donovan covered on what's available in the farm system.The Thunder also hired Oliver Winterbone to be a data analyst for the team, and he had previously paved the way for Donovan to embrace advanced metrics, something the Thunder front office values. Presti apparently made sure if he had to go with Donovan, the transition would be as smooth as possible and he started paving that road last April.

The remaining unknown is how the rest of the team will respond. Wojnarowski writes:

Durant reached out to multiple former University of Florida players in the NBA to gain insight into Donovan, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and became generally positive about the hiring.

Elsewhere on the roster, how much initial enthusiasm the hiring of Donovan will bring, league sources told Yahoo Sports. For a franchise chasing short- and long-term championship aspirations, some are uncertain about a college coach's ability to lead an immediate title push.