After the OKC Thunder's season came to an end following the Game 7 loss against Houston Rockets, the conversation immediately shifted to the future of the franchise. While there was much talk about a potential Chris Paul trade, head coach Billy Donovan was also out of a contract and there was speculation on whether he'll be a part of the project going forward.
It was first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Billy Donovan will not be returning to the OKC Thunder next season. The franchise has now confirmed the news.
Wojnarowski also mentioned that OKC Thunder's impending transition into a rebuilding team made an extension impossible. This makes sense considering OKC is a small-market franchise and revenues will be seriously affected due to coronavirus. This also opens the door for the Thunder to move their veterans in this offseason.
Billy Donovan's tenure with OKC Thunder
Billy Donovan was signed as the replacement for the outgoing Scott Brooks by OKC Thunder back in 2015. He had been the coach at the University of Florida for 19 years prior to this and led the Gators to two consecutive national titles in 2006 and 2007.
OKC reached the Western Conference Finals in the first season with Donovan at the helm and infamously blew a 3-1 lead to the Golden State Warriors, post which Kevin Durant decided to leave. Since then, the OKC Thunder have bounced out of the playoffs in the first round for each of the last four seasons.
Billy Donovan was voted as the NBCA Co-coach of the Year along with Mike Budenholzer this season. He could become a highly sought-after free agent with several franchises on the lookout for a new head coach.
Rebuild on the cards for OKC Thunder
This move more or less makes it clear that the OKC Thunder are on the verge of a complete rebuild. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be the key piece going forward but the likes of Lu Dort and Darius Bazley could be a huge part of the franchise's future. Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams have all been linked with moves away from OKC and perhaps will see GM Sam Presti work on some trades soon.
Published 09 Sep 2020, 07:29 IST