9:24pm: The two sides are nearing an agreement that would make Donovan the team’s coach, and a formal announcement of the deal is expected in the next two days, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets.
3:25pm: Donovan and the Thunder are discussing the framework of a contract that would bring the coach to OKC, Wojnarowski and Forde report. There is confidence on both sides that a deal can be completed, but no agreement has been reached as of yet, the Yahoo! scribes note.
1:43pm: Presti has yet to speak with Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka or their agents about the idea of hiring Donovan, Wojnarowski tweets.
1:15pm: Donovan is strongly leaning toward taking the Thunder job, sources tell Stein and fellow ESPN scribe Andy Katz, and one source said to them that the feeling around Florida is that Donovan “is as good as gone.”
12:24pm: Oklahoma City is focusing completely on Donovan, reports Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com. The likeliest scenario involves Donovan taking the Thunder job, presuming they can agree on compensation, sources tell Parrish.
11:28am: Donovan doesn’t have to pay Florida a buyout to leave the deal, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Presti flew to Florida and met with Donovan on Tuesday, league sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
11:05am: The job is Donovan’s to lose, a source tells Stein.
10:08am: The Thunder are pushing Donovan to take the job as the team puts together an offer, and Donovan is enthusiastic about the idea pending agreement on terms of a deal, report Adrian Wojnarowski and Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports. Wojnarowski suggests that Donovan is looking for salaries of around $6MM a year. Kevin Durant has a positive feeling about the possibility after reaching out to one of Donovan’s former player’s who’s now in the NBA, league sources tell Wojnarowski. Donovan has wanted to speak with Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka before taking the job, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to talk to them, Wojnarowski adds.
9:17am: Grantland’s Zach Lowe has heard further chatter connecting the Thunder and Donovan, and that combined with Stein’s report prompted Lowe to say via Twitter that he’d be surprised if Oklahoma City doesn’t hire the Florida coach.
8:54am: Thunder GM Sam Presti and University of Florida coach Billy Donovan have begun formal conversations about Oklahoma City’s vacant coaching position, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Donovan has been considered the favorite to end up in the job since the team fired Scott Brooks a week ago, according to Stein, though Spurs assistant Ettore Messina is also a candidate, as the ESPN.com scribe reported last week. Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie was reportedly the team’s No. 1 target shortly before the Thunder dismissed Brooks, but he issued a statement indicating he would stay at UConn shortly before Brooks’ firing and later called Presti to tell him he was withdrawing from consideration.
The 49-year-old Donovan is the first candidate with whom Oklahoma City is known to have had formal talks, Stein writes, though it’s clear that there were at least back-channel communications going on between the Thunder and Ollie. Presti and Donovan have a longstanding friendship, and the GM has hired two members of Donovan’s staff in the past. One person who knows Donovan recently described him as “tired of recruiting” to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, and sources tell Stein much the same. There was a growing feeling around the league as of a month ago that Donovan was ready to jump to the NBA for the right opportunity, as Stein heard then, though the comforts and power Donovan has established over 19 years at Florida continue to tug at the coach, Stein notes.
The Nuggets and Magic have planned to target Donovan for their openings as well, Stein wrote early this month, and last year Donovan turned away what Stein described as serious interest from the Cavaliers and the Timberwolves. The coach has a $500K buyout in his Florida contract, one that pays him more than $4MM a year, though that buyout wouldn’t dissuade him from jumping to the NBA, according to Stein.