The Oklahoma City Thunder organization has announced that it has mutually decided against a contract extension for head coach Billy Donovan.
Donovan, who was with the team since 2015, leaves the Thunder with a 243-157 record and qualifying for the postseason every year he was in charge. This season, he led a Thunder team that many had written off to the fifth seed, losing to the Houston Rockets in a tightly contested seven-game series. He was a candidate for the NBA Coach of the Year award, losing out to Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors.
Many will consider the true coaching quality of the two-time national championship winner with the University of Florida with different eyes. Many say that Donovan is an excellent coach who should be a little more respected in the public eye. Others, however, call out on the fact that he failed to get out of the First Round of the playoffs without Kevin Durant, with whom the team went to the Western Conference Finals in 2016, losing in seven games to the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
No one can deny, though, how excellent he has been this year and a key reason the Thunder scrapped the idea of rebuilding without longtime franchise player Russell Westbrook and superstar Paul George, who the team traded to the Houston Rockets and LA Clippers, respectably. Instead, a team that was supposed to be comprised of a “washed” Chris Paul and just a bunch of role players and young guns defeated all the odds, and almost eliminated the Westbrook-Harden Rockets.
It’s tough to call whether Donovan deserved to keep his job or not, especially since he showed how good of a coach he really is. I’m sure that the Thunder job will be in great hands, given the multitude of coaches up to grab. It’s going to be interesting to see the candidates for the job.