Billy Donovan will not be back as coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and here are five spots where he could find his next job.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were not expected to be good this year, as they were certain to offload Chris Paul and fully enter into a rebuild. But instead, they made the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the West, and pushed the Houston Rockets to seven games. Surely coach Billy Donovan would be back, right?
Donovan’s contract expired after that Game 7 loss to the Rockets, with no apparent indication a new contract was coming. On Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Thunder and Donovan mutually agreed to part ways.
Donovan went 243-157 in five seasons as Thunder head coach, good for a .608 winning percentage. But the Thunder are in line for a lot of roster turnover in the coming years, with contracts set to end and a bushel load of draft picks coming, and Donovan was understandably hesitant to be part of a shift toward a rebuild.
Donovan automatically becomes a candidate for the four remaining job openings in the NBA, and it’s worth wondering if a team might fire its current coach to hire him. His record at Florida, including two national titles, makes a return to college a possibility. But Jeff Goodman of Stadium has reported staying in the NBA is Donovan’s preference.
So where could Donovan land?
5 possible new jobs for Billy Donovan
5. Washington Wizards
Donovan succeeded Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City–could he do it again in Washington? The Wizards are 149-169 in four seasons under Brooks, and even being without John Wall for big chunks of the last three seasons (all of the 2019-20 season) a 57-97 mark over the last two campaigns is just bad.
Wizards star guard Bradley Beal played for Donovan at Florida, so he can be expected to vouch for his former coach with the news of his Oklahoma City exit. Beal delivered, with a brief sub-tweet.
Brooks has one year left on his contract, and Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has already said he’ll be back next season. But that was before some potential replacement options became available (Brett Brown, Nate McMillan, and now Donovan). Brooks will make $7 million in the final year of his deal, and with broader uncertainty, the Wizards would naturally be hesitant to eat that money.
But if Donovan is willing to sit out a year while Brooks coaches out his deal, the Wizards will be a natural landing spot for him.