The OKC Thunder and head coach Billy Donovan have mutually agreed to part ways.
Late Tuesday evening the OKC Thunder announced they would not re-sign head coach, Billy Donovan. Executive vice president and general manager, Sam Presti and Donovan met in his office to download on the miracle season of 2019-20. The decision to part ways was mutual.
Presti noted the pair shared some beers and reflected on the five seasons Donovan spent in OKC. This past year was arguably the most successful campaign of Donovan’s time in OKC given the roster and reduced expectations. During his tenure, the coach never missed the playoffs.
In his first year, the team suffered the dramatic Western Conference Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors after leading the series three games to one.
In each of the next four seasons, the Thunder would bow out in the first round. Of those four campaigns, this year’s iteration had the fewest stars yet pushed the series to seven games and had a chance to win at the buzzer.
Donovan reign with OKC Thunder comes to an end
ESPN broke the news via Adrian Wojnarowski initially on social media and followed up with an article. Presti provided the following quote to the master of breaking Woj bombs.
“We had planned to sit down at the end of the season and discuss the best way to move forward for both of us,” Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “After those discussions, it became apparent that we couldn’t provide him the information on the future direction of the team over the next several seasons to give him the level of clarity that he understandably desires at this stage of his career.
“Therefore, we close this chapter and reflect fondly on all that he has given to the team, organization and community. Billy will always have a place in the Thunder family.”
Donovan was selected as co-winner of Coach of the Year by his peers sharing the honor with Bucks head man Mike Budenholzer.
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As for next steps, although Billy D wished the franchise well in a statement (also noted in the ESPN article). He has several options at his disposal in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Chicago Bulls all have openings for a head coach. There are already whispers the latter has an interest in adding Donovan.
“This place will always be special to us. I will always hold this organization in the highest regard and wish the Thunder and their fans the success they deserve,” Donovan said in a statement.
Many wondered if Donovan would return last season after a third consecutive first-round playoff exit. Instead, Vice President and general manager Sam Presti forged ahead trading stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook. Subsequently, Presti elected to finish out the coach’s contract with the team overachieving.
Much of the success can be tied to Donovan’s choice to utilize the trio of point guards Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder to close games. The lineup became the most dangerous clutch time unit in the association.
In his five seasons, Donovan amassed a record of 243 wins and 157 losses in the regular season as wells as18 wins and 23 losses in the postseason.