The Oklahoma City Thunder and coach Billy Donovan decided to part ways Tuesday. The two parties came to a mutual agreement that it was time to split from one another.
Thunder and Billy Donovan agree to mutually part ways. pic.twitter.com/ZJ41bImvSR
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) September 9, 2020
Donovan was an assistant coach for University of Kentucky from 1989-1993. Then, in 1994 he became the head coach at Marshall University.
Following his two seasons with Marshall, Donovan went on the coach the Florida Gators. He stayed with the Gators for 19 seasons. During this time he became Florida’s head coach with the most wins in their men’s basketball program history.
He took the team to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2006 and 2007. With the Gators, he was a four-time NCAA Regional Champion, a four-time SEC Tournament Champion, and a six-time regular season champion. This did not include the three times he was the SEC Coach of the Year.
In 2015, Donovan accepted the head coaching position with the Thunder. This was his first position as an NBA head coach.
In his five seasons with the Thunder, Donovan coached the team to 243 regular season wins. Not including his 18 playoff game wins. Each year Donovan brought the team to the playoffs, but never won the championship.
Billy Donovan finished with a .608 win percentage with the Thunder. That is the 3rd-best in Thunder/SuperSonics history. He only trailed George Karl and Scott Brooks. pic.twitter.com/K2uUw0D9g2
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 9, 2020
However, in his first season with the team, he brought them to the Conference Finals after placing first in their division.
One of the reasons for the split, is the uncertainty of the team’s future. The effects of COVID-19 on the NBA lead to questions on the team’s playoff likeliness. The NBA had to temporarily suspended the 2019-2020 season.
They have now a solution that allows the teams to still play, but it has eliminated the presence of fans, reducing the league’s revenue immensely.
Donovan’s contract expired at the end of the 2019 season. It is suspected that he is already being looked at as a contender for other NBA coaching jobs in New Orleans, Indiana and possibly Philadelphia. Still, in interviews both Donovan and the general manager of the Thunder express no ill-wishes and both openly hope for the best for the other.