76ers Rumors: Billy Donovan Expected to Be a Candidate for Head Coach Position

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 9, 2020

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan yells at his players during the first half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game against the Houston Rockets Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Billy Donovan is no longer the Oklahoma City Thunder's head coach after the two sides agreed to part ways following the expiration of his contract, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Donovan may not be out of a job long, though, as the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly interested in his services, according to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer.

"Billy Donovan's name has been floating around as a potential Sixers head coaching candidate this month, per sources," O'Connor wrote. "But the first order of business for Philadelphia is to get its front office situation sorted out."

Wojnarowski also reported that the Chicago Bulls "are expected to have an interest" as well.

Donovan coached the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2015-2020, leading OKC to postseason appearances in all five of his seasons.

The former Providence College basketball star also guided the University of Florida from 1996-2015, winning a pair of national championships in 2006 and 2007.

Philadelphia won just 75 games over Brown's first four seasons but rebounded to make the playoffs in his next three. A near victory over the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season brought hope for the 2019-20 campaign.

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However, the 76ers at times looked lethargic, and their offense struggled en route to finishing as the East's No. 6 seed. Unfortunately, All-Star point guard Ben Simmons also underwent left knee surgery that forced a premature end to his season before the playoffs, where the 76ers got swept by the Boston Celtics in four first-round series games.

After the season ended, Brown was let go, and there have been murmurs of a front-office shakeup as well, which O'Connor insinuated. Philly general manager Elton Brand discussed what may lie ahead in a postseason talk with reporters, per Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice.

"As I've been taking a deep dive in where we failed, what went wrong, and how we can get better, I felt like we need to strengthen our organization from top to bottom, and that starts with the front office. Balancing our strengths and analytics and basketball strategy with more basketball minds, and whatever happens. My goal, with whatever happens going forward, is making sure we are in position to truly contend."

Philadelphia has had three leaders of basketball operations in the last five years between Hinkie, Bryan Colangelo and now Brand, who will lead the team into the 2020-21 season.

Whether the team's new direction involves Donovan at the helm remains to be seen, but bringing on a coach who led a Thunder team that wildly beat preseason expectations after trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George yet making the playoffs anyway would be a good start.