The Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach search continues, and another new candidate has emerged. The Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs in Game 7 of their series against the Houston Rockets, and Billy Donovan, whose contract expired at the end of the season, won’t be returning. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Donovan and OKC have decided to part ways.
Donovan will likely garner the interest of multiple teams, including the Sixers. As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported, Donovan has emerged as a possible head coach candidate for Philly.
Billy Donovan's name has been floating around as a potential Sixers head coaching candidate this month, per sources. But the first order of business for Philadelphia is to get its front office situation sorted out. https://t.co/dsxzSENpZV— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) September 9, 2020
Donovan coached a wide range of teams during his five years with the Thunder, finishing with a 243-157 record overall. He went to the Western Conference Finals in 2015-16 with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook where they lost a 3-1 lead to the Golden State Warriors (this was OKC’s only deep playoff run under Donovan before four first-round exits), coached the Paul George and Westbrook led teams for two years, then moved on with an impressive run to snatch the 5th seed this season. Chris Paul continuing to excel at an All-NBA level clearly led the way on the floor, but Donovan also deserves his fair share of credit for how the Thunder overachieved this season.
I’d probably still favor Tyronn Lue for the Sixers’ head coach role, though. He looks like the front runner for now, as he and the Sixers reportedly have “strong mutual interest.” The Sixers should be addressing their front office first and need to consider plenty of coaching candidates to make a well-informed choice, but Lue would be a good option.
While it’s easy to credit LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ talent for their success under Lue, the coach still showed his qualities. He demonstrated a willingness to experiment with different offensive sets and defensive approaches, the ability to make tactical and lineup adjustments quickly (rather than making important changes too late in a playoff series), and he’s known as someone who can challenge players when need be and hold stars accountable.