Florida's Billy Donovan named new Head Coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s official! Billy Donovan is now the Head Coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He and Thunder General Manager Sam Presti agreed to terms of a long term contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the deal has been finalized as the organization announced the deal via a statement on Thursday afternoon (local time).
After spending 19 years as the Head Coach of the Florida Gators (Basketball team of the University of Florida), Donovan will be the third Head Coach of the Thunder franchise. In his time as the Head Coach in Florida, he took the Gators to the Final Four four times and helped the team win the NCAA tournament twice.
Presti expressed his delight at welcoming Donovan to Oklahoma as he said,
“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,” Presti said.
He pointed out Donovan’s experience and past successes as the reason behind the club narrowing its choices down to the former Gators coach.
“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,” Presti continued. “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.”
Donovan will replace Scott Brooks, who was fired just more than a week ago. Steve Kerr has shown what debut Head Coaches can do in the NBA with a good team and Donovan is inheriting more than just a good team with the likes of former MVP Kevin Durant and reigning All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook.
This is what he had to say about being offered the job and appointed as the Coach of the Thunder:
"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."
- Billy Donovan
The Thunder owner Clayton I. Bennet also supported the appointment with a statement:
"We warmly welcome Billy and his family to Oklahoma City. He is the perfect fit for our organization and for our community and we look forward to a long and successful relationship."
With the kind of talent he possesses on his roster and just a year left on Durant’s contract, Donovan will be under some heavy scrutiny right from the get go.