Kevin Durant Comments on Billy Donovan Becoming New Thunder Head Coach

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2015

Injured Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant reacts on the bench to a basket in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 8, 2015. Oklahoma City won 108-104. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Kevin Durant is leaving no doubt about the fact that he's buying into the hiring of Billy Donovan as the Oklahoma City Thunder's head coach.

The Thunder officially announced Thursday that Donovan will take over for Scott Brooks, who was fired last week. Many wondered how Durant would take the news given the fact that Donovan has never coached in the NBA before.   

According to both ESPN.com's Royce Young and The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry, the six-time All-Star doesn't have any doubts about the choice for Brooks' successor:

Royce Young @royceyoung

KD on Donovan: "I'm very excited to learn from him and get better from him and do my best to do whatever he tells me to do."

Darnell Mayberry @DarnellMayberry

Kevin Durant on Billy Donovan not having NBA coaching experience: “If you know how to coach a team, that’s all that matters.”

In itself, taking over this Thunder team comes with a lot of pressure. In Brooks' six full seasons, the franchise won an average of 67 percent of its regular-season games and went to an NBA Finals and two Western Conference Finals.

Then there's the ticking time bomb that is Durant's contract. He's an unrestricted free agent in 2016. If the franchise takes a step back in Donovan's first year, there's a good chance the Thunder might lose one of their best players.

CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb believes that Donovan can succeed where many college coaches have failed:

Doug Gottlieb @GottliebShow

Billy Donovan played in the league, old enough to be respected, young enough to relate. I like the hire. GR8 coach w/o huge ego. #Thunder

Young added that Donovan fits the ideal that general manager Sam Presti is looking for in a head coach:

Royce Young @royceyoung

One big appeal to Donovan is the synergy his hire would have. Not just with previous staffers aboard, but very likeminded with Presti.

It would have been more surprising if Durant raised issue with the hiring, but Thunder fans will certainly feel much better hearing that he's excited for next year. As long as he and Russell Westbrook avoid the injury bug, Oklahoma City should be in a position to compete for a title in 2015-16.

Speculation regarding Durant's future will only continue to grow the closer to summer 2016 we get. The hiring of Donovan certainly adds an intriguing variable to the situation.


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