Billy Donovan won't return as coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder after five seasons, the team announced Tuesday night, ending a largely successful run that ought to make him an attractive candidate for jobs around the league.
Donovan, who was at the end of his contract, took the Thunder to the playoffs every year and was a finalist for NBA Coach of the Year this season after his squad outperformed expectations and pushed the Houston Rockets to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
Donovan went 243-157 with Oklahoma City.
“I have a great respect and admiration for the players I coached in Oklahoma, and I also want to thank the coaches I worked with, who gave unbelievable time and expertise to our common goal,” Donovan said in a statement.
The Thunder and Donovan described his departure as a mutual decision. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said he couldn’t give Donovan the assurances he wanted about the future.
“In knowing where he is and the caliber of coach he is, I wouldn’t want to mislead him and tell him it was going to be a certain way and then have it not be that way," Presti said. "But ultimately, it was also five years and I think in his mind, it may have been time to move on. I totally respect that and I have a great deal of respect for him. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Before his run in Oklahoma City, Donovan led the University of Florida to two national championships and four Final Four appearances in 19 seasons.
Donovan inherited All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook when he was hired before the 2015-16 season. The Thunder reached the Western Conference Finals, where they squandered a 3-1 lead against the Golden State Warriors.