Report: Billy Donovan won't return as Thunder coach

Jason Owens
·2 min read

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan won’t return to coach the team next season.

The two sides decided against pursing an extension after his contract expired at the conclusion of this season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Donovan has coached the Thunder his entire NBA career since joining Oklahoma City in 2015. Prior to his stint with the Thunder, Donovan spent 19 years at Florida, which he developed into a national power and two-time NCAA champion. He was a finalist to Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse in the Coach of the Year race this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

OKC rebuild reportedly became an issue

Wojnarowski reports that the inevitability of a Thunder rebuild became a wedge in contract talks.

Donovan left Florida to coach a Thunder team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the roster. The team signaled an imminent overhaul last season by trading Westbrook to the Houston Rockets and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Thunder received a bounty of draft picks and 35-year-old All-Star Chris Paul in return. The inevitable rebuild didn’t necessarily start on schedule this season, as Oklahoma City was one of the league’s biggest surprises, fielding a competitive team the made the playoffs and pushed the Rockets to a Game 7 in the opening round.

But winning is not a part of the immediate future for the Thunder, and now neither is Donovan.

Donovan compiled a 243-157 (.608) record in Oklahoma City and an 18-23 (.439) mark in the playoffs. Assuming that he opts to remain in the NBA, he’ll be one of the top candidates on the market following the success of this season.

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