The Oklahoma City Thunder and Florida's Billy Donovan have started discussing the framework of a contract to bring the two-time national championship coach to the NBA, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
There's confidence on both sides that a deal can be reached, but none is yet in place, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti and Donovan met on Tuesday in Gainesville, Fla., and conversations – including contract talks – are continuing on Wednesday, sources said.
Donovan could command an annual salary in the $6 million range to leave Florida. He makes $4 million-plus annually with no state income tax at Florida.
Donovan is the only serious candidate in Presti’s search, and the two-time national championship coach is enthusiastic about the possibility of the job – if terms on a deal can be reached, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant has reached out to multiple former University of Florida players in the NBA to gain insight into Donovan, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and has become generally positive about the potential hiring.
Donovan has had an interest in trying to speak to the Thunder’s key players, including Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, before accepting the job, but it was unclear if that would be facilitated for Donovan, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Throughout the Donovan process, Presti hasn't conferred with his top players, nor their agents.
Presti and Donovan have a relationship that dates back more than a decade.
Oklahoma City has the potential to be an NBA championship contender next season, but the looming free agency of Durant (2016) and Westbrook (2017) are significant issues facing the franchise.
Donovan turned down offers to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves a year ago.
He agreed to become the Orlando Magic's head coach in 2007, only to change his mind and return to Florida after signing a contract and holding a news conference. The NBA did not allow him to be considered for head-coaching jobs until the term of that five-year agreement ended.
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