Oklahoma City Thunder Hire Billy Donovan As New Head Coach

Oklahoma City Thunder Hire Billy Donovan As New Head Coach

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  • The Oklahoma City Thunder hired former Florida Gators head men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan as their new head coach on April 30.

The Oklahoma City Thunder hired former Florida Gators head men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan as their new head coach on April 30.

Billy Donovan is the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder made the announcement via a press release on their official website on April 30:

“The Oklahoma City Thunder named Billy Donovan the team’s new head coach. it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Donovan becomes the third head coach in Thunder history after spending the past 19 years at the University of Florida where he led the Gators to two National Championships and four trips to the Final Four while amassing a record of 467-186 (.715).”

Yahoo! Sports (via NewsOK.com’s Darnell Mayberry) reported Donovan signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Thunder on Thursday. League sources also told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne (via ESPN’s Royce Young) on Thursday the fifth year is a team option.

Presti called Donovan “the ideal fit” for the team and expressed delight in having him on board, per The Thunder’s official website:

“We are thrilled to welcome Billy and his family to the Oklahoma City Thunder organization. When we began the process of identifying the next head coach of the Thunder, we started with a vision and the identifiable qualities that we felt were necessary for our organization as well as the ever-evolving role of the head coach in today’s NBA.

“We wanted to identify a person with the traits associated with high-achieving leaders in their respective fields; a continuous learning mentality, the ability to adapt, evolve and innovate, intrinsically motivated, humility and great tactical competence.

“While we created a comprehensive analysis regarding the qualities we were looking for, it became quite evident that Billy was the ideal fit for the Thunder as we look to transition our team into the future. 

“Billy has achieved an incredible level of success and experience within his 21 years as a head coach and has shown the unique ability to not only create but sustain an elite program. His emotional intelligence, commitment to the concept of team, and relentless approach to incremental improvement have allowed him to bring his players together and establish lasting relationships through competitive success.

“Billy’s core values and alignment with our culture and community, as well as his proven tactical abilities, make him an ideal addition to the Thunder organization.”

For his part, Donovan told the Thunder’s official website the team’s values coincides with his:

“I am honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation.

“The Thunder represents so many of the values that I embrace as a head coach; the commitment to the team above oneself, the dedicated pursuit of excellence, the commitment to organizational culture, the identity they have established and the fact that the Thunder and the community are so intricately woven into the fabric of one another.

“To have the ability to work with such a talented and high character group of players is also rare, and I am excited to forge ahead creating those relationships.”

With Donovan now the Thunder’s head coach, the team has hired a total of three former University of Florida employees within the past year. Oklahoma City Blue (the Thunder’s D-League affiliate) head coach Mark Daigneault and Thunder information analyst Oliver Winterborne are the other two, per Young.

Donovan acquires a championship-caliber team with the return of 2013-14 NBA MVP Kevin Durant next season. ESPN’s Marc Stein says Durant has been sending “optimistic signals” about suiting up for Donovan, per Young. 

The ESPN udpate also says the Thunder consulted with players Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka during the team’s coaching search. Donovan’s adaptability — the ability to make changes with different personnel during his 19-year tenure at Florida — made him appealing to the players.

Donovan replaces 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Year Scott Brooks, whom the Thunder dismissed on April 22 after a six-year stint, per ESPN.

Donovan’s 467 career wins with the Florida Gators puts him second all-time in SEC wins behind legendary Kentucky Wildcats head men’s basketball coach Adolph Rupp, per ESPN Stats & Information (via Young). 

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