Billy Donovan‘s track record of success at the University of Florida bodes well for his chances as the Thunder‘s new coach, Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald writes. In addition to leading his team to back-to-back championships, Donovan also has proven adept at getting his star players to remain longer than they otherwise would have, Goodman notes. The organization certainly hopes this ability will carryover to the pros, since the pending free agency of Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016 is sure to be a hot-button topic in OKC all season long in 2015/16.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- The L.A. D-Fenders, the Lakers‘ D-League affiliate, informed coach Phil Hubbard that the franchise would not be exercising its team option for him next season, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter links). The D-Fenders struggled to a record of 17-33 under the first-year coach, though NBA callups for Jabari Brown, Jamaal Franklin, and Vander Blue certainly didn’t help Hubbard’s cause, Spears notes.
- If the Nets and Deron Williams were to agree to a buyout or if the franchise waives him via the stretch provision, the point guard returning to play for the Jazz is a possibility, posits Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link). Williams spent the first five and a half seasons of his career in Utah before being dealt to Brooklyn back in 2011.
- Blazers big man Chris Kaman went to Portland with the intention of being a reserve and mentoring the team’s younger big men, but injuries derailed that plan, Jabari Young of CSNNW.com writes in his review of Kaman’s season. While many players would be thrilled to become a starter, even if it was due to injuries, Kaman wasn’t a huge fan of the change, Young adds. When discussing his role change, Kaman said, “It’s not bad, but it’s not what I came here to do. I knew I came here to back up [Robin] Lopez. And that’s where I see myself and that’s where I feel comfortable.” The veteran has one year remaining on his current deal, though only $1MM of his $5,016,000 salary for 2015/16 is guaranteed.