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What does Billy Donovan bring to the Thunder?

In the latest installment of the NBA Front Office series, Tom Penn (playing the role of general manager), David Thorpe (senior consultant), Amin Elhassan (scouting director) and Kevin Pelton (analytics director) discuss the Oklahoma City Thunder's hiring of former Florida head coach Billy Donovan. What can be expected of Donovan? Is he a clear upgrade over Scott Brooks?

Want in on the conversation or have a question for one of the guys? Use #NBAFrontOffice.


Question 1: What can we expect from Billy Donovan? How will he operate within the organization?

Tom Penn: David, you know the background on this, but apparently Billy Donovan and Sam Presti are really good friends?

David Thorpe: Right. There's going to be a great trust level right away between Mr. Presti and Coach Donovan.

Penn: Indeed, the relationship between the head coach and the GM is the most important and the hardest one to get right, and keep right. It's when you're in the trenches, fighting the battles and losing games that you see so many of those relationships fracture, and things go wrong. It becomes much less productive as coach loses faith in GM, or vice versa. So obviously given Donovan's lack of NBA coaching experience and how his last flirtation with the NBA faltered, it's obvious that Sam Presti must have put health of this relationship at the top of the list when considering coaching candidates.

And because of that he obviously must believe that Donovan can get this job done right away. So he made the relationship the priority over everything else. The more traditional way of thinking would be to select the coach who maximizes your chances to win now. There are other coaches who would have made more sense, much more proven in the NBA. We came up with Alvin Gentry as a perfect example of one coach with a ton of NBA experience. Presti's obviously thinking beyond the next six months. He's not as worried about the next six months; he wants a partner for the next six years. How this team performs in the next six months will set up a whole lot of the next six years.