Billy Donovan has been named the next coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team announced on Thursday. The former Florida coach had been in negotiations with Thunder general manager Sam Presti since Tuesday and the two sides reached an agreement early Thursday afternoon. The terms of the deal were not immediately available.
Donovan was Oklahoma City's top target from the time the organization fired Scott Brooks on April 22. ESPN first reported the negotiations late Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports revealed that Presti had flown to Gainesville on Tuesday to meet with Donovan in person. By Thursday, multiple media outlets had reported that a deal was being "finalized." SI.com was the first to report that the deal was done.
Donovan will take over a Thunder team that appears poised to compete for a championship right away. And no doubt, the expectations in Oklahoma City will be to bring home a title. Stars Kevin Durant (after the 2015-16 season) and Russell Westbrook ('16-17) are approaching free agency, and Donovan will be tasked both with trying to win right away and with trying to convince one or both of them to stay.
Donovan had been the head coach of the Gators for 19 years and reached four Final Fours and won two national championships. In 2007, he agreed to coach the Orlando Magic but changed his mind on the same day as his introductory news conference. He was barred from coaching in the NBA until 2012-13 because of a five-year non-compete as part of his separation agreement with the Magic. Last off-season, he received interest from several NBA teams but opted to stay at Florida.