Billy Donovan

Northwest Notes: Donovan, Rosas, Murray

Despite the fact that he’s already spent five seasons at the helm of the Thunder and that his All-Star dynamic duo was just dispatched in five games by the Trail Blazers, head coach Billy Donovan is expected to return to his post in 2019/20.

That patience in an era of scapegoating and quick fixes, Brett Dawson of The Athletic writes, could be attributed to general manager Sam Presti‘s tendency to take a long view on things.

Dawson writes about Donovan’s impact in Oklahoma City over the past few seasons, suggesting that he’s earned the faith of the organization and this is one organization in particular that isn’t afraid to see things through.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson has nothing but high praise for recent franchise hire Gersson Rosas, Chris Hine of the Minnesota Star Tribune writes. Rosas impressed the organization with a detailed vision not only for a generic basketball franchise but for the Timberwolves in particular. Beyond the team’s current roster, Rosas had a deep understanding of the team’s history and marketplace.
  • Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic logged a record-breaking 65 minutes played in Denver’s four-overtime loss to the Trail Blazers Friday night. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told the media afterward that he apologized for giving his center such a heavy work load. Jokic averaged 31.3 minutes per game for Denver this season.
  • Despite struggles from the field in his first playoff experience, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is figuring out the difference between regular and playoff basketball, Sean Keeler of The Denver Post writes.

Thunder Notes: George, Abrines, Matthews, Donovan

Thunder All-Star forward Paul George will soon have his right shoulder re-evaluated by a specialist, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman reports. GM Sam Presti told the media during his annual post-season press conference that George will see a specialist outside of Oklahoma City but Thunder staff members will be present.

George saw action in 77 regular-season games but took four games off to rest his aching shoulder. He was effective in the playoffs despite the discomfort, posting averages on 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG during the Thunder’s 4-1 opening-round series loss to Portland. Presti declared that George “was at no risk of any type of future injury” this season and labelled the possibility of George undergoing surgery as “speculation.”

We have more from Presti’s press conference:

  • He took the blame for not having enough sharpshooting wings on the roster, Lee notes in a separate story. Presti thought Alex Abrines would have a “breakout year” but the swingman missed 17 games for personal reasons and was ultimately waived. The Thunder pursued Wesley Matthews after the Knicks bought him out and waived him but Matthews chose Indiana. “Once Wes Matthews went to Indiana there really wasn’t a lot of other options out there, and that put some stress on us offensively, and you never want to be in that position,” he said.
  • Billy Donovan is expected to return as head coach despite the latest postseason flameout. Presti said he has yet to meet with Donovan on the subject because he wanted to give his coach more time to “reflect and decompress,” Brett Dawson of The Athletic tweets. “I do think getting his perspective on things is important because there’s nobody that works harder than him,” Presti said. “If anything, I think he needs to take some time to think through the season himself and have a really good conversation.

Presti Anticipates Donovan Returning As Thunder Coach

After a disappointing first-round exit in this year’s postseason, there has been some speculation that the Thunder might consider a head coaching change. However, speaking today to reporters – including Brett Dawson of the Athletic (Twitter link) – general manager Sam Presti said that he anticipates bringing back Billy Donovan to coach the club in 2019/20.

Presti’s wording isn’t quite as definitive as if he’d said that Donovan absolutely will be back. However, it sounds like that’s less about any lingering uncertainty, and more about the fact that the two men have yet to sit down for a full-blown post-mortem on the 2019/20 season.

According to Dawson (via Twitter), Presti said today that he plans to take a little time before meeting with Donovan to talk about the season and the future. The head coach’s perspective is important, but Presti doesn’t anticipate any changes regarding his job status, he added today (Twitter link via Dawson).

Donovan, who took over as Oklahoma City’s head coach before the 2015/16 season, has led the team to four straight years of 47+ wins, including a 49-33 mark this season. The Thunder won two playoff series in Donovan’s first year, but haven’t made it out of the first round since Kevin Durant‘s departure in 2016.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Saunders, Layden, Donovan

The Nuggets wrapped up their first playoff series victory in a decade last night, but the franchise would have been well positioned for the future no matter what happened, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic is signed through the 2022/23 season, while young star Jamal Murray remains on his rookie contract. Denver has a $30MM option for next year on Paul Millsap and can get nearly $20MM under the cap by declining it. They hold three trade exceptions totaling roughly $33MM that don’t expire until July, and first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. is expected to be ready next year after missing this season because of back surgery.

“What gets me really excited is when I think about what this team has in the next couple of years,” coach Michael Malone said. “I think we have a great window that we’re just beginning with this young group, and Malik (Beasley), Jamal, all of our young guys are a big part of that.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders and GM Scott Layden have been meeting with prospective candidates for the president of basketball operations job and both seem in position to return next season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Layden, who was rumored to be on thin ice after the Jimmy Butler fiasco, solidified his relationship with owner Glen Taylor after Tom Thibodeau was fired, Krawczynski adds. Sanders is still classified as an interim coach, but he has the full support of star center Karl-Anthony Towns and virtually all the players.
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan didn’t offer any clues about his future with the franchise during this week’s exit interviews, relays Clay Horning of The Norman Transcript. “For me, it’s just kind of business as usual,” said Donovan, who is coming off his third straight first-round playoff ouster. “(GM) Sam (Presti) and I had a chance to visit a little bit on the plane yesterday on the way back, just talking about the next couple of days and getting together. So, I’m sure he and I will get a chance to sit down as some of this stuff slows down and talk in detail and (I) look forward to that.”
  • Thunder rookie Deonte Burton thinks he benefited greatly from the time he spent in the G League, relays Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Burton started the season as a two-way player before signing a multi-year contract in March. “G League is good talent, too,” he said. “Like a lot, a lot more talent than people think.”

Western Notes: Morris, Fournier, Kanter, Booker

Celtics forward Marcus Morris believes Thunder coach Billy Donovan made a big mistake by using his brother Markieff Morris sparingly during their playoff series against Portland, Jay King of The Athletic reports.

Markieff Morris chose to play with Oklahoma City after reaching a buyout with New Orleans, which acquired him from the Wizards at the trade deadline. Markieff played just four minutes in Game 5 and between 13 and 15 minutes in the other games of the series won by the Trail Blazers, 4-1.

“I’m not a coach or anything like that, but I feel like they just didn’t utilize their bench enough. I feel like my brother went over there for no reason,” Marcus said. “He never got an opportunity to play. I thought that he would really help them in the playoffs, but from what I seen he should have went somewhere else just to be able to show that veteran leadership and that experience.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers made an offer for Magic swingman Evan Fournier that Orlando passed on prior to the trade deadline, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. Portland was willing to ship a roster player and a protected first-rounder for Fournier, who will make $17MM next season and holds a player option on his $17MM salary for the 2020/21 season.
  • Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter played with a separated left shoulder in Game 5, Kevin Pelton of ESPN reports. Kanter suffered the injury during the opening quarter but managed to play 32 minutes. He received a pain-killing injection at halftime. Kanter averaged 13.2 PPG and 10.2 RPG in the series as the primary replacement for injured Jusuf Nurkic. Portland would have to rely more on Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard in the conference semifinals if Kanter is forced to miss any games.
  • Suns star guard Devin Booker had no input in the firing of coach Igor Kokoskov, GM James Jones told the Arizona Republic’s Katherine Fitzgerald and other media members. “I speak to Devin, I speak to all of our players, about our organization. But in these instances, this isn’t a decision for Devin to make. This is my decision,” Jones said. That’s curious, since Booker indicated after signing his five-year maximum salary extension that he’d have a say in all major moves going forward.  I think it’s a collective agreement. Moving forward, throwing in any advice I can, stay in the loop and watch what’s going on and know what’s going on,” Booker said last month.
  • The Rockets held a predraft workout on Wednesday that included Mississippi guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, Washington guard Jalyen Nowell and Campbell guard Chris Clemons, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.  Houston does not currently own a pick in this year’s draft. Nowell is the highest-ranked prospect among the trio, as he’s ranked No. 87 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Western Notes: Capela, Brunson, Kings, Roberson

Clint Capela‘s thumb injury could cost him a $2MM bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The Rockets center has a 2,000-minute criteria tied into the team reaching the Western Conference Finals and for a defensive rebounding percentage above 30%. He has another bonus for attempting 150 or more free throws and a free throw percentage above 65%. He is currently shooting 62.6% from the line. Through 42 games, Capela has played 1,436 minutes. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks rookie Jalen Brunson and veteran Devin Harris will pick up the minutes vacated by backup point guard J.J. Barea, who suffered a torn Achilles on Friday, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Brunson played 30 minutes against the Warriors on Sunday but Harris will see his role expand as well. “He’s going to be ready and he’s going to be there for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Harris.
  • Kings assistant coaches under Dave Joerger are having their options for next season picked up by the front office, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. That group includes Bryan Gates, Elston Turner, Bob Thornton, Jason March, Duane Ticknor, Larry Lewis, Bobby Jackson, Phil Ricci and Dan Hartfield. It’s a way of aligning the contracts of the staff with Joerger’s deal. The surprising Kings are currently a game above .500.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac warned members of the executive board to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Divac made the pronouncement during a conference call with 13 members of the  executive board, along with lead owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac has been frustrated by internal complaints and used the forum to demand respect, Amick adds.
  • Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson remains sidelined indefinitely, coach Billy Donovan told Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman and other media members. “He’s worked hard, he’s doing all he needs to do but he’s still in the rehab process.”  Roberson suffered a season-ending left knee injury last January and suffered a setback in late November when an MRI revealed an avulsion fracture in the knee.

Western Notes: Favors, Cousins, Donovan, Lakers

Jazz forward Derrick Favors has seen his name surface in several trade rumors over the years, but the 27-year-old remains the longest-tenured player on the active roster. The latest rumor of Utah expressing interest in Bulls forward Jabari Parker once again brought forward the idea of trading Favors, who is taking everything with a grain of salt.

“I was telling one of the coaches, I could go back years and years ago and I can name each guy I was supposed to get traded for,” Favors said before the Jazz-Rockets game on Monday, according to Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “Every year, I can just name them so I have fun with it, I enjoy it.

“Definitely use it as motivation. But I have fun with it most of the time because most of the time I look forward to it, like ‘Who am I going to get traded for this year? Who they want me to get traded for? Where the rumors at?’ so I enjoy it.”

Favors’ awkward fit alongside Rudy Gobert could once again force the team to explore trading him, with the Georgia Tech product averaging 11.1 points and seven rebounds per game this season. He’s started in 26 of 31 games so far and signed a two-year, $40MM deal to stay with the club this past free agency.

There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:

  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr has stressed patience on DeMarcus Cousins‘ eventual return, Mark Medina of The Mercury News writes. Cousins suffered a torn Achilles this past January and remains several games away from returning. “We’re not right there. It’s still going to be some time,” Kerr said. “We’re going to be patient and continue to give DeMarcus the space he needs to prepare. When the time is right, we’ll have some things planned for him.”
  • Brett Dawson of The Athletic breaks down the Thunder‘s decision to pick up coach Billy Donovan‘s option for next season, detailing why the front office is happy with the direction Donovan is guiding the team. Oklahoma City holds the league’s fourth-best record at 20-10, including a stellar 12-3 home record, and has played with great enthusiasm and effort so far this season.
  • Rajon Rondo (hand) and Brandon Ingram (ankle) participated in full practice Thursday as they continue to work toward returning, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. The two players were assigned to the South Bay Lakers, G League team of the Lakers, this past week to help expedite their recoveries and allow them to practice further.

Thunder Pick Up Billy Donovan’s 2019/20 Option

The Thunder have exercised the fifth-year option on head coach Billy Donovan‘s contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The move will ensure that Donovan is locked up for the 2019/20 season.

Since being hired by the Thunder in 2015, Donovan has put together a 168-106 regular season record, leading the club to three consecutive playoff appearances. Oklahoma City reached the Western Conference Finals in Donovan’s first season, but has been eliminated in the first round in each of the two years since then.

As Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter), only three other NBA head coaches have more wins with a single team than Donovan since he entered the league in 2015 — Steve Kerr (Warriors), Gregg Popovich (Spurs), and Brad Stevens (Celtics). Dwane Casey won 166 games with the Raptors and 14 so far with the Pistons.

Reports at the time of Donovan’s hiring indicated that his five-year contract with the Thunder was worth approximately $30MM, so he’s in position to earn that entire amount.

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Roberson, Curry, Gibson

With a mammoth luxury tax bill looming at the end of the year, the Thunder plan on sticking with 14 players on their roster to begin this season, reports Erik Horne of The Oklahoman.

“Right now we’re going with what we have,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “If something changes, I’ve always said this with Sam (Presti) and Troy (Weaver), they’re always looking to improve, make our team better all the time… that would be something that if Sam decided to do that, we’d probably talk about that.”

As Horne notes, the decision to keep the roster at fourteen makes sense considering the Thunder would face major luxury tax implications with the signing of a fifteenth player.

Right now, both Bryce Alford and K.J. McDaniels are on training camp contracts with the Thunder, so they’ll ultimately be waived if Horne’s report is accurate unless one of them impresses enough to force the Thunder into waiving someone with a guaranteed salary.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • In another piece for The Oklahoman, Horne writes that Thunder swingman Andre Roberson has been looking good in practice despite not yet being cleared for contact. Because he’s still rehabbing, he’s mostly limited to shooting drills at this point.
  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports that all indications out of Trail Blazers practice is that new addition Seth Curry is looking good. Teammates are praising his jump-shooting and playmaking ability, while coaches are impressed with his basketball intelligence and versatility.
  • According to Nick Friedell of ESPNTimberwolves forward Taj Gibson was surprised at Jimmy Butler‘s trade demand, saying, “I worked out with him all summer, so when I said what I meant, it was like a right hook. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t know. I thought — it looked like from everything things were going good.”

Andre Roberson May Not Return Until December?

Despite previously reporting that Thunder guard Andre Roberson said he was on track to be back for the start of the 2018/19 season, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman is now being told that Roberson is still a “couple months away” from his return and that he’s targeting the end of 2018 for a return to normalcy.

Roberson, 26, says he’ll return “when (he) feel(s) ready” after rupturing his left patellar tendon in January of this year. “I’m not really putting a particular timeline on it, but I want to come back to myself somewhere in, like, December,” Roberson said. “It would be great if it happened before Christmas. That’d be great, but like I said, not putting a timeline on it, just taking it a day at a time.”

“Knowing the history of this injury, not many people come back from it the same way,” Roberson added, but also noted that “in today’s day and era, in terms of technology, medicine and stuff like that, it’s totally different,” crediting the Thunder’s medical staff with helping him work his way back.

Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said the team is fine with Roberson taking his time to get right and that he wouldn’t rush to get Roberson back on the court, especially considering the severity of the type of injury suffered by Roberson.

That being said, the Thunder are still sure to be eager to get Roberson back on the court. As Dawson notes, the Thunder ranked fifth in the NBA in defensive rating last season before Roberson got hurt. Afterward, Oklahoma City saw its rating drop ten spots to fifteenth.