Thunder Ready To Offer Billy Donovan

By Randy Renner

According to multiple sources Thunder GM Sam Presti flew to Florida yesterday to meet with Gators head coach Billy Donovan about replacing Scott Brooks as coach of the Thunder.

Sources in Florida say Donovan is "excited" about the possibility of coaching the Thunder and superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But those sources are also saying Donovan would like to meet with KD and Russ along with power forward Serge Ibaka before committing to the Thunder.

Durant has been reaching out to some of Donovan's former players in the NBA, like Mike Miller to find out more about the Florida coach.

ESPN.com is reporting the Thunder and Presti are totally focused on Donovan and that talks are progressing with a contract offer on the way.

Donovan makes a little over $4 million under a contract extension he just signed last year. An offer from the Thunder might have to approach $6 million to make financial sense for Donovan since Florida doesn't have a state income tax.

Donovan also has deep roots in Gainesville where he and is wife helped start a private Catholic high school. Two of their children graduated from there and two more are still attending. Donovan has been head coach of the Gators for 19 years but he's coming off one of his worst seasons after losing four of the top five players off a team that went to the Final Four the year before.

Close friends, like Louisville coach Rick Pitino say Donovan is intrigued by the NBA and ready to take the next step. Donovan also has admitted he'd like to be an NBA coach because of the focus on basketball 24 hours a day.

Donovan is said to have tired of the recruiting grind and having to make sure his players all get to classes on time.

There would be none of that in the NBA and he would inherit a roster that is built to contend for a championship.

So at the moment, it appears Sam Presti is ready to offer the Thunder head coaching job to Billy Donovan and if an agreement can't be reached then perhaps move on to Spurs assistant Ettore Messina and others.