Billy Donovan was officially introduced today as the new coach of the Thunder, and he views his jump from the college ranks to the NBA as an exciting challenge, Royce Young of ESPN.com relays. “It’s been a complete whirlwind for me the last four or five days,” Donovan said. “I am extremely thankful the way [OKC GM Sam Presti] laid out the organization to me over about a two-and-a-half-day period because, to be honest with you, I really did not know a lot about the Oklahoma City Thunder. I knew of Sam, I obviously knew of the players and organization, but I didn’t know what it was about. And it was that — that really made me turn my head when I started to find out more, that I think the qualities, the values, what this organization is about is directly in line and mirrors what I believe.”
Here’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Thunder‘s hiring of Donovan shows that Presti is more concerned about the overall future of the franchise than of Kevin Durant departing as a free agent after the 2015/16 season, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. If Presti was going to make a coaching hire simply to placate Durant, the GM would have likely gone with Kevin Ollie or Mark Jackson instead, both of whom are well-respected by the star forward, Lee adds.
- As the Trail Blazers enter the summer with uncertainty regarding a number of players on the roster, C.J. McCollum and Meyers Leonard are two players whom the team expects to build around heading into the 2015/16 campaign, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. “It validates what we’ve believed the whole time,” GM Neil Olshey said of the duo’s playoff performances. “Seeing what C.J. and Meyers were able to do in this playoff series against one the most physical, well-coached, defensive minded teams in this league should inspire everybody in this marketplace that we have a very strong core of youth that we can move forward with.” Leonard is eligible to ink a rookie scale extension with Portland this offseason.
- The injuries suffered by Durant this season scuttled the Thunder‘s plans to evolve offensively, and instead the team had to simply try and survive the season, Young writes in a separate piece. While the team’s offensive stagnation wasn’t the primary reason for the dismissal of former coach Scott Brooks, it certainly played a large part, Young adds.