Thunder pick up Billy Donovan option

The Oklahoma City Thunder have picked up the fifth-year option for head coach Billy Donovan to keep him on the sidelines through the 2019-20 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Donovan is currently in his fourth year with the team, recording a 168-106 record in that span, including an 18-10 mark so far this season. Per Wojnarowski, he is the fourth-winningest coach in the NBA during his time in the league behind only Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

The Thunder reached the Western Conference Finals in Donovan’s first year at the helm, taking a 3-1 lead on the Golden State Warriors before eventually losing in seven games.

Oklahoma City had 95 combined wins over the past two seasons but suffered a first-round loss in each year, only winning three total games in this stretch.

Still, the Thunder clearly believe Donovan is the right man to lead, especially with the team off to a better start so far in 2018-19. The squad is currently in third place in the Western Conference, just 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for the top spot.

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There is also more balance in the team than in the past, with Paul George taking on a bigger role and Dennis Schroder adding offensive depth, while Russell Westbrook continues to fill up the stat sheet. With the coach now under contract for another year, the team can focus on finishing the year strong.

“It’s great. It’s great,” Thunder star Paul George said after a 121-96 rout of the Bulls on Monday. “I’m here for multiple years. Russ is here for multiple years. Coach will be here for multiple years. That’s good. That’s good for Billy. I just know how it could be, with pressure. Sam [Presti] really alleviated that and just allowed him to coach us and not have to worry about that.”

Donovan won two national championships and reached three Final Fours at Florida before Presti recruited him to the NBA in 2015 to replace Scott Brooks.

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