After Parting Ways with Thunder, Billy Donovan Now a Favorite for Both Bulls and 76ers Head Coach

Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder mutually parted ways on Tuesday. Photo by @nypost (Twitter).

  • Billy Donovan is the favorite to land the Bulls head coaching gig and has the third shortest odds to be the next 76ers head Coach
  • Donovan was 243-157 (.608) in five seasons as the Thunder’s head coach
  • Read below for analysis on where Donovan may land next

Billy Donovan is out in OKC. Donovan and the Thunder mutually agreed to part ways on Tuesday after five successful seasons. The 55-year-old is expected to be a hot commodity on the open NBA market with several teams reportedly very interested in acquiring his services.

One of those franchises is the Chicago Bulls, who recently fired head coach Jim Boylen. Online sportsbooks are especially bullish on the Windy City being Donovan’s next destination, and have made him the favorite to land the job.

Odds on Chicago Bulls Coach for 2020-21 NBA Season

Coach Odds
Billy Donovan +300
Ime Udoka +400
Kenny Atkinson +400
Adrian Griffin +600
Nate McMillan +600
Tyronn Lue +600
Brett Brown +700
Jason Kidd +700
Darvin Ham +1000
Wes Unseld Jr. +1000
Jeff Van Gundy +1800
Mark Jackson +1800

All odds taken Sept. 9th.

Donovan a Strong Fit for Bulls

Donovan’s resume in OKC includes a National Basketball Coaches Association coach of the year award, a Western Conference finals appearance and five straight playoff berths. He was 242-157 (.608) at the helm of the Thunder and narrowly missed guiding them to an upset of Houston in the first round of this year’s postseason.

Prior to joining Oklahoma City, Donovan was a staple at the University of Florida for 19 seasons. He led the Gators to two National Championships, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, and four SEC titles.

Part of the reason why Chicago is so enthralled with Donovan is because he has a long history of developing young talent. The Bulls current roster is young and ripe with potential, but needs a coach like Donovan to help accelerate the rebuild process. Three of Chicago’s five starters are 23 or younger and the Bulls will pick fourth in the upcoming draft.

But here’s the problem. Part of the reason why Donovan chose not to stay in OKC is because the Thunder are transitioning towards a rebuild. 35-year-old Chris Paul is likely leaving and the franchise acquired 15 future first round draft picks from trading away Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Why leave one rebuild for another? Donovan isn’t getting any younger and it would make much more sense for him to pursue an opening with a contender.

2020 NBA Championship Odds Tracker

Is Philly in Play?

Enter the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly canned Brett Brown following a disappointing showing in the first round of the playoffs, and are built to win now. That should be tempting for Donovan and although the oddsmakers are high on his chances of landing with the 76ers, he’s not the current favorite.

Odds on Philadelphia 76ers Coach for 2020-21 NBA Season

Coach Odds
Tyronn Lue +200
Ime Udoka +300
Billy Donovan +400
Jason Kidd +700
Kenny Atkinson +900
Sam Cassell +1000
Mark Jackson +1200
Adrian Griffin +1400
Jeff Van Gundy +1400
John Lucas +1400
Stan Van Gundy +1400
Wes Unseld Jr. +1400
Darvin Ham +2000
Becky Hammon +2500

That title belongs to Tyronn Lue, but he reportedly wants $7 million a season, which would be the league’s third highest coaching deal behind Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers. Reports last week suggested Lue and the Sixers were close to an agreement, but that was before Donovan became available.

Injuries derailed the 76ers this season, but they are just a true point guard away from being a serious threat to win the title. Many have speculated that Paul could join Donovan in Philadelphia, which would allow the team to move Ben Simmons to power forward or move on from him altogether.

A move to Philly would reunite Donovan with Al Horford, who he coached at Florida, and give him the opportunity to coach Joel Embiid, one of the most talented players in the league. Donovan has experience handling superstars as well, as he was on the bench for the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook led Thunder, who fell just a game short of the NBA Finals.

Donovan’s Final Destination

Philadelphia is the more intriguing destination for Donovan and although Lue may have the inside track, Donovan is just as strong a candidate. Philly is a better bet, with more favorable odds to be Donovan’s landing spot, but if the Sixers do chose Lue that doesn’t mean Donovan should settle for Chicago.

There will be other openings to consider and you’d have to think a place like New Orleans would be high on his list. A core of Zion, Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday would be enticing for any coach and unlike in Chicago, Donovan would have a good chance to get back to the playoffs right away.

Pick: Philadelphia 76ers (+400)

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Chris Amberley

NFL NBA MLB NHL Golf Sport Writer & Editor