Billy Donovan Will Not Return as OKC Thunder Head Coach


Billy Donovan will not return as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Donovan would not return as the coach, with his contract expiring at season’s end and the sides have decided against pursuing an extension.

The Thunder confirmed that report with a news release moments later.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti issued this statement about the move:

“I have great respect for Billy and will always appreciate our work together. He is a terrific basketball coach and we are proud of what he has accomplished with the Thunder. We had planned to sit down at the end of the season and discuss the best way to move forward for both of us. After those discussions, it became apparent that we couldn’t provide him the information on the future direction of the team over the next several seasons to give him the level of clarity that he understandably desires at this stage of his career. Therefore, we close this chapter and reflect fondly on all that he has given to the team, organization and community. Billy will always have a place in the Thunder family.”

Donovan also issued a statement as follows:

“Coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder the past five seasons has been a great honor, and I thank Mr. Bennett, Sam and the entire organization for the opportunity. I have a great respect and admiration for the players I coached in Oklahoma, and I also want to thank the coaches I worked with, who gave unbelievable time and expertise to our common goal. Lastly, I want to thank the Oklahoma City community for being so welcoming to my family during our time here. This place will always be special to us. I will always hold this organization in the highest regard and wish the Thunder and their fans the success they deserve.”

Thunder Chairman Clay Bennett isssued a statement as well:

“Billy Donovan will be remembered fondly for his personal integrity and professionalism during his time as our head coach. We wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Wojnarowski also tweeted the following: With reduced league revenues amid pandemic, there remains uncertainty on how long the Thunder might continue with key veterans in place before changing course on playoff contention. The timetable on so many plans in the NBA remain fuzzy. This was an extremely amicable parting.

Donovan was the Thunder coach for five seasons, going 243-157 for a winning percentage of .608.

Donovan led the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals in 2016, but OKC blew a 3-1 lead in the series and lost to the Golden State Warriors in seven games.

The next four seasons produced first round playoff losses, including a loss this season in seven games to the Houston Rockets.

Despite the playoff loss this season, Donovan was named NBA Co-Coach of the Year by the NBA Coaches Association.

Donovan was 18-23 in playoff games, 2-5 in playoff series.

Donovan came to OKC in 2015 after a very successful college coaching career, which produced back-to-back national championships at the University of Florida in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Donovan is 55 and is a native of Long Island, New York.

He helped Providence to the Final Four in 1987 under head coach Rick Pitino.

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