Billy Donovan finalizes deal to become Thunder’s new head coach

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Updated: April 30, 2015
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Goodbye to the college game, and hello to the NBA. Florida coach Billy Donovan has finalized a five-year deal to become the Oklahoma City Thunder’s next head coach, according to both News 9 and Yahoo Sports.

The 49-year-old has coached the Gators for the past 19 years, and has accomplished quite a bit. He is a two-time national champion, led his team to four Final Fours and has four SEC Tournament championships. He was also named the SEC Coach of the Year three different times.

He will now take over a Thunder squad that will immediately have championship aspirations. There will be some who believes it’s championship or bust for the Thunder next season, which places pressure on Donovan to come in and deliver right away.

Kevin Durant will become a free agent during the summer of 2016, and Donovan also has to eventually convince the former MVP to stay put. There have already been a plethora of rumors saying Durant will take his talents to Washington D.C. — his hometown — and play for the Wizards one day in the near future.

And Russell Westbrook, who is an MVP candidate this season — though he probably won’t win it, because his team didn’t make the playoffs — will be a free agent himself in 2017.

If healthy, the Thunder have the talent to compete for an NBA title next season. General manager Sam Presti — who has a close relationship with Donovan — obviously didn’t believe Scott Brooks could accomplish that goal, so he will now put his hopes and beliefs in Donovan — who will be coaching in the NBA for the first time.

Donovan did initially take the job to coach the Orlando Magic in 2007, then changed his mind before the deal was finalized. But with the team he’ll have in Oklahoma City, this was the best opportunity for him to transition to the professional side.

 

Photo Cred (Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

Josiah Turner

Josiah is the founder and editor-in-chief at Sideline Sports Report. He has written for ESPN.com and is currently a digital editor at the SEC Network. He has covered the Washington Redskins for FanSided, and he has also covered high school basketball for Rivals.com and the Mechanicsville Local newspaper. Josiah is from Chesapeake, Va., and a college graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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