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Thunder pick up coach Billy Donovan’s 5th year option through 2019-20 season

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Donovan’s team is riding high, but his learning curve remains steep.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder have committed to ride with head coach Billy Donovan for the remainder of his 5-year contract.

According to Woj, OKC has picked up Donovan’s final year of his contract that runs through the 2019-2020 season. To date, Donovan has compiled a 169-106 record, a strong mark for a man coaching in the NBA for the first time. That said, Donovan joined a squad who many believed had the talent and competitiveness to contend for titles, but following Kevin Durant’s inglorious departure, those expectations have not yet been met. And looking to the east, Billy’s rookie coaching peer Fred Hoiberg suffered through a horrid coaching experience that many (yours truly included) believe is the general norm for college-to-pro head coaches, and somehow Donovan has been spared that.

Even so, players are happy with the unfolding events.

“It’s great. It’s great,” Thunder star Paul George said after a 121-96 rout of the Bulls on Monday. “I’m here for multiple years. Russ is here for multiple years. Coach will be here for multiple years. That’s good. That’s good for Billy. I just know how it could be, with pressure. Sam [Presti] really alleviated that and just allowed him to coach us and not have to worry about that.”

Russell Westbrook added:

“Billy’s been nothing but great for our organization, for myself. He’s been very understanding since he first got here and is the same now, and I’m excited to have him back.”

With players happy and the team performing well, Westbrook’s cannonball MVP season and the Melo Who Must Not Be Named season are footnotes, but remain cautionary tales. To the degree Donovan is figuring things out and building on his learning curve is something that remains to be seen.

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