When you really think this thru does it make any real difference. I don’t think so because Russell Westbrook and Paul George combined make around sixty million something dollars a year and they enjoy having Billy Donovan as their head coach. As well it’s obvious Sam Presti has a strong relationship with Billy Donovan so this doesn’t seem like a jaw dropper even if the Thunder exit the playoffs in the first round for the third straight season with what is right now the league’s highest payroll.
If you look at OKC’s schedule to date nothing has been validated because the schedule the Thunder has played so far has been the league’s easiest. So you would think this year’s performance has nothing to do with the decision to retain Billy Donovan for his fifth year as the Thunder head coach.
Here’s what I think…if you want to take the Thunder to the next level then you as a head coach will have to nuance some change in Russell Westbrook’s game. This will have to occur. To date except for maybe these past few games after the 1-12 clusterfuck in Denver… that hasn’t happened with Billy Donovan as the head coach. It appears though Westbrook is currently trying to play defense and limit his three point chucking addiction. Step I of Twelve Steps Basketball wise … Play some defense and stop chucking the dumbass threes.
I don’t own the team. It’s not my money. I have no skin in this game so if Clay Bennett and Company want to make Mike Gundy their basketball coach that’s their call. But make this clear I think Billy Donovan was an excellent college coach at Florida winning two NCAA titles at a non-basketball school per se. That’s not an easy thing to do. Those usually go to Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and Villanova as of late. So winning two championships at Florida is a formidable thing.
I like Billy Donovan. If my son were a DI hoops player good enough to travel that path…then Billy Donovan would be at the top of my list as to who I’d want influencing my son’s life for four years as a young student-athlete.
Clay Bennett of late has a pretty good track record of helping to name head coaches in that he’s an alpha regent on the board at OU. I loved the Lon Kruger hire at OU even though I genuinely liked Jeff Capel. The manner in which Bob Stoops stepped down and Lincoln Riley was elevated to head coach is perhaps the smoothest transition I’ve ever witnessed from either a blueblood football or basketball program. So what I’m writing here is Clay Bennett has a very strong record of late in helping to make head coaching decisions at both OU and to a lesser degree with the Thunder.
I write lesser degree on Billy Donovan only because I’m still not sure if he can help Russell Westbrook contain his inner basketball demons. If I did let Donovan go…then my short list for his replacement would be headed by Nurse Ratched. I’m thinking at that point Nurse Ratched is the only living human who might help Russell Westbrook come to terms with his basketball decision making at times. But then again we all saw how that ended with McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) in the end.
In hindsight it’s really only fair because for any basketball coach to not lose his mind coaching Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook on the same team for an entire basketball season should result in some sort of punitive damages settlement for the coach.
And that’s what I think this is in the end… a human/legal settlement of sorts for Billy Donovan getting thru this for four basketball seasons.
Billy Donovan 2010 University of Florida Presser on upcoming game with South Carolina: