Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan has built a 199-120 record in his four seasons on the bench. Despite the fact that OKC has made playoff appearances in each of Donovan’s four seasons at the helm. However, Sam Presti’s statement on Monday, that he anticipated Donovan to return, didn’t sit well with a portion of the fanbase.
The reason why is because of Oklahoma City’s 4-12 playoff record since Kevin Durant left. Portland became the latest team to bounce the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, joining Houston and Utah, prompting some fans to desire change. While that change could still come in the form of a roster shakeup, it’s unlikely to happen on the bench…or so it seems.
Presti admitted on Monday to have not yet talked with Donovan and said to the media that if something, “were to change,” with the head coaching situation then they would let them know. The issue at hand ins’t the playoff record but Donovan’s contract.
In December the organization picked up the fifth year of Donovan’s contract. In December the Thunder were rolling, ending the month with a 122-102 home win over Dallas that placed them at 23-13 on the fairly young season. No one really saw the fall that was waiting just a few months away.
The problem is that the fall isn’t entirely Donovan’s fault. The burden of a team that doesn’t respond well to coaching doesn’t rely fully on the coach and if the organization doesn’t protect Donovan with a contract before next season then they’re sitting him up to fail.
If the team is struggling to hear Donovan’s voice now, when it comes to running offensive sets and hustling back on defense, then just wait until they send him out as a lame duck head coach.
I guess what I’m saying is that, right or wrong, those fans hoping for a coaching exit aren’t totally out of luck just yet and here’s why.
Donovan isn’t likely to take the court without some sort of guarantee for his future. He’s seen this team on a way deeper level than any of us even know and the only guarantee that offers security would be an extension. I don’t see how he moves into next season without that.
Secondly, and to that point, there’s no way he’d survive the season without that extension. We know this team. We know what they’re capable of, good and bad. We know they aren’t going to respond well to coaching and there’s going to be a rough stretch to the season. I don’t see how a coach, unsecured in his future, gets past that.
The Thunder only have two options with Billy Donovan. They either have to extend him or let him go. Without an extension the second option is going to happen one way or the other.