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Sam Presti: Billy Donovan will return next season

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Donovan’s job is safe, despite the Thunder’s roller coaster season.

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder General Manager Sam Presti said Billy Donovan will return next season as OKC’s head coach. Donovan has a career regular-season record of 150-96 in his time with the Thunder. He replaced Scott Brooks prior to the 2015-16 season in the hopes that a new direction and leadership would help retain the services of Kevin Durant as well as propel the Thunder to the championship level.

Things did not go as planned for the Thunder this year, as OKC finished an underwhelming 48-34 despite earning the 4th seed in the playoffs. Despite home court advantage, the Thunder showed a remarkable display of lack of preparation and ability to adjust as the series went on, with them losing to the Jazz in six games. With such a disappointing ending, there were some speculations swirling about Donovan’s job security,

Presti made it clear that he would be back for the 2018-2019 season. During his press conference yesterday, there was one recurring theme.

From Fred Katz:

[Presti] said “continuity” 11 times during an hour-long press conference to wrap up the season. He included coach Billy Donovan in those sentiments. He referred to Westbrook, George and Steven Adams as setting a “foundation” for Oklahoma City.

“Paul used the term year one...We also have to understand that we’re in a very good position if PG does return to continue to build on a foundation of Paul George, Steven Adams, Russell Westbrook, and then also the surrounding cast we like as well,” he said.

He included Donovan as part of that core, confirming the coach would be back for a fourth season with the Thunder. Donovan has two more years remaining on his deal, including 2018-19.

“When we hired Billy, if you go back and look at the press conference we held at that point in time, we talked about three different buckets that we identified as being what we wanted in a head coach,” Presti remembered. “The first was a basketball coach that could adapt, evolve, and that had shown the ability tactically to play several different ways with different types of personnel: big, small, system. The different adaptations to changing game and changing personnel. I wish I could say I was as prophetic to know we would be having the amount of changes that we have had…Billy’s ability to do that was a big factor.”


What do you think happens with Donovan?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Presti was bluffing; Donovan will be fired this offseason.
    (21 votes)
  • 49%
    Donovan will play out his contract.
    (53 votes)
  • 31%
    Donovan will start next season as head coach but likely be fired mid-season.
    (34 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now