Billy Donovan will not be returning to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder next season. On Tuesday, the Thunder announced that they have mutually decided to part ways with their head coach. Donovan’s contract expired at the end of the Thunder season and both parties have jointly agreed not to negotiate an extension:
In five season as the head coach of the Thunder, Donovan compiled a regular season record of 243-157 (.608) and an 18-23 (.439) mark in the postseason. He took the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals during his first season and led the team to the playoffs in each of his next four.
The Thunder were expected to be in rebuild mode this season after trading their top two scorers from the previous year during the offseason. But Donovan was able to make the most out of his line-up and led the team to a 44-28 record during the 2019-20 season. That record put them in a tie for 4th in the Western Conference.
The Thunder gave a good account of themselves in the playoffs but ultimately lost to the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of their first round series. With their lineup composed of a young core led by Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, and a veteran group with expiring contracts, the Thunder are headed to a rebuild which according to OKC, isn’t the same direction Donovan wants to go at this stage of his career.
Griffin is the Favorite
There’s no word yet from the Thunder on who will replace Donovan but if your ask the oddsmakers, there’s a long list of names that could take over the OKC coaching job. On top of the list is Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin who is the +300 odds on favorite at online sportsbook BetOnline.
Griffin was Donovan’s lead assistant coach in OKC from 2016 to 2018 before the former Seton Hall basketball star was hired by the Toronto Raptors as their lead assistant coach when Nick Nurse took over the team in 2018. Griffin is widely credited with helping Nurse turn the Raptors to a champion team.
If you take a look at the oddsboards of the top online betting sites, Griffin is also among the betting favorites to land the vacant coaching jobs in Chicago, Indiana, and New Orleans. However, his familiarity with the Thunder makes him as the logical favorite to take over from Billy Donovan.
Other Top Candidates
Former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is second in the list of candidates for the OKC head coaching job at +500. The 53-year old Atkinson instilled a winning culture in Brooklyn despite his best player being D’Angelo Russell. He turned player like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen into pseudo superstars and took the Nets to the playoffs after only two seasons. After he was fired by Brooklyn earlier this season, Atkinson has become one of the hottest coaching commodities in the NBA.
David Vanterpool is also a top prospect at +700. The Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach is known for aiding the development of one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Vanterpool started working with Damian Lillard even before Dame played his first NBA game. With OKC having a superstar guard prospect in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Vanterpool’s player development skills could be useful in OKC.
Also at +700 in the oddsboard is Nate McMillan who was recently fired by the Indiana Pacers. McMillan’s forte is defense as he led the Pacers to sixth and third in defense during the previous two seasons. Despite missing Victor Oladipo, McMillan helped the Pacers to the 5th best record in the NBA this season.
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