Thunder Coaching Rumors: Donovan, Messina

A third NBA head coaching vacancy opened Wednesday when the Thunder cut ties with Scott Brooks, and college coaches Billy Donovan and Kevin Ollie have emerged as perhaps the most prominent candidates. We’ll round up the latest on the Thunder’s search here, with any additional updates added to the top:

  • While Donovan is the current favorite to land the Thunder’s coaching position, Spurs assistant Ettore Messina is also on the team’s list of candidates, Marc Stein of tweets.

1:18pm update:

  • “Very personal reasons” have led Ollie to call Presti and tell him he wouldn’t take the job, a source told Zagoria. A second source said to Zagoria that the Thunder made it clear that they were indeed interested, but there were a variety of reasons why Ollie decided against it.

12:10pm update:

  • Ollie has “removed himself from consideration” for the Thunder job, sources tell Jon Rothstein of (Twitter link; hat tip to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman). Given the doubt that lingered Wednesday even after Ollie issued his statement that he would stay at Connecticut, it’s unclear if that completely closes any reasonable chance that Ollie will end up in the Oklahoma City job.

12:00pm update:

  • “All signs point to” Donovan becoming the next Thunder coach, according to Ken Berger of, who hears sentiments similar to those that Marc Stein of heard earlier this spring indicating that the Florida coach is ready to jump to the NBA. Donovan, a friend of Thunder GM Sam Presti, is tired of recruiting and while he would jump to the NBA only for a winning situation and a GM he knows and trusts, as a person who knows Donovan tells Berger, the Thunder fit the bill. Donovan would seek a deal worth $25MM over five years, or similar terms, league sources tell Berger.
  • Donovan doesn’t have the credibility or relationship with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that Ollie does, a source points out to Adam Zagoria of The same source who earlier identified Ollie as the Thunder’s No. 1 target tells Zagoria that Ollie is “listening” as Oklahoma City pursues him, despite Ollie’s statement from Wednesday in which he indicated that he would remain at Connecticut. The source also suggests to Zagoria that if the Thunder’s next coach can’t manage the two-superstar dynamic between Durant and Westbrook to Durant’s liking, last year’s MVP will leave in free agency next summer.
  • Durant expressed “100%” support for the team’s decision to part ways with Brooks but said the news was difficult to take and lauded Brooks for his mentorship on and off the court, as the injured star posted on his Instagram account.
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