The Oklahoma City Thunder has announced that coach Billy Donovan will not be returning next season after leading the team for five seasons.
Donovan had a record of 243-157 as the coach of Oklahoma City, a team that overachieved this year, almost making it to the second round of the NBA playoffs.
They lost 4-3 in a best-of-seven series against the Houston Rockets in the first round.
Donovan led the team to the playoffs in each of his five seasons and was a finalist for the NBA Coach of the Year award this year, which all points to him probably becoming a very attractive solution for other NBA teams that are currently looking to hire a new coach.
According to Donovan and the team, his departure was a mutual decision, with Thunder general manager Sam Presti saying that Oklahoma City couldn’t give Donovan the assurances about his future with the team that he wanted.
Before joining Oklahoma City, Donovan was the coach at the University of Florida, where he won two national championships and took the team to four Final Four appearances in 19 seasons of coaching.
In his first year as the coach of the Thunder, Donovan went to the Western Conference Finals with a team that was carried at the time by superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They ended up squandering a 3-1 series lead to the Golden State Warriors that year and have not been back to the Conference Finals since.
Expectations for Oklahoma City were very low in 2019 after the team traded Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.
However, the Paul-led Thunder team went 44-28 and nearly beat the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.