Oklahoma City’s basketball season ended last weekend and as of the time this article published Billy Donovan is still the head coach. Speculation is that will change sometime in the near future but the silence has been awkward.
The season was a failure…some would say miserably…and while there’s certainly plenty of blame to pass around Donovan is the best option as a scapegoat.
The addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony netted one additional win during the regular season and one additional playoff win from last season. As the off season focus shifts to recruiting Paul George to stay and figuring out what to with Anthony’s huge contract, it’s natural that Donovan falls at the altar of appeasement.
“I think the biggest thing is just trying to keep a relationship with Sam, continue to talk with Sam,” George said when discussing his free agency. “Continue to talk with Billy, with Russ, and figure out the direction we want to go as a group.”
You can’t help but notice that Carmelo Anthony is missing from the list of folks George listed there. Obviously Sam Presti has a lot on his plate, just not sure what portion size Donovan has on that plate.
If Melo decides to opt-in to the final year of his contract then the Thunder owe him $28 million. If he opts out then he can test the waters of free agency and you almost get the feeling that Oklahoma City would be relieved. It certainly doesn’t help that he’s sticking to his guns about being a starter and refusing to discuss the possibility of coming off the bench.
That leaves us with Paul George. Raymond Felton, Jerami Grant, and Josh Huestis are all free agents as well but Paul George is the biggest name on Oklahoma City’s priority list right now. He’s the domino that will make all the others fall in place this summer.
George was clear that OKC was on his list of options, but there are no doubt going to be other options for him to explore as well. At this point we’ll just say that he’s committed to being uncommitted.
“I haven’t been in a position to be a free agent or know what that is like, and then to have the chance to go where you want to go — I feel with players, they want that option,” George said during Saturday’s exit interviews. “But then you go into an organization where they kind of check the boxes on all the things that you want out of an organization, and then immediately they become a candidate to where you want to play long-term.
“So, that was the case. That’s been the case here. They honestly check the boxes where I needed those boxes to be checked from what a player wants out of a front office, out of a medical group, out of teammates, out of coaching staff. Honestly, I can’t say anything more than that. They checked the boxes that needed to be checked.”
It’s going to be a busy off-season for sure, and Sam Presti’s end-of-the season press conference could be the most interesting one he’s ever done.