The Oklahoma City Thunder and head coach Billy Donovan parted ways, the team announced Tuesday night. A source with knowledge of Philadelphia’s coaching search tells The Athletic’s Sam Amick that Donovan will be a candidate for the Sixers’ vacancy. Clippers assistant Ty Lue is also expected to get serious consideration. Donovan, 55, just finished his fifth season as the team’s head coach, leading the Thunder to a 44-28 record and a first-round playoff exit in seven games against Houston. Oklahoma City went 243-157 in the regular season and 18-23 in the postseason during Donovan’s tenure.
Why didn’t OKC bring Donovan back?
Erik Horne, Thunder beat writer: Donovan replaced Scott Brooks in 2015 and compiled a 243-157 (.608) regular-season record in five seasons — fourth best among active head coaches. But Donovan’s playoff record was just 18-23, and Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a Tuesday press release that the team “couldn’t provide him the information on the future direction of the team over the next several seasons to give him the level of clarity that he understandably desires at this stage of his career.”
What is he leaving behind?
Zach Harper, NBA insider: The Thunder immediately become one of the more attractive coaching positions available in the NBA because of low drama and high potential. They have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — one of the top guard prospects in the West — several wing projects with great potential and a boatload of picks from the Russell Westbrook and Paul George trades. It’s a perfect job for the next highly sought after assistant coach.
What does this mean for the team?
Horne: The Thunder hired Donovan for his “tactical competency” back in 2015, but now they are shifting from perennial playoff contention to a rebuild. The next coach’s focus will parallel a less expensive roster and player development, in particular grooming the young trio of Gilgeous-Alexander (22), Luguentz Dort (21) and Darius Bazley (20).