If you went back to work yesterday, I’m sure there was nothing but Kevin Durant hot takes from your coworkers. What people probably weren’t talking about is what the signing could mean for college basketball. I know, I know. Kevin Durant plays in the NBA, how the hell could that change college hoops?
The answer is simple. Billy Donovan.
It was somewhat of a surprise when Donovan left for the NBA – especially after he had a change of heart a couple years prior with the Orlando Magic – but now the question is back on the table. Could Donovan return to college basketball?
When he accepted the OKC job, he walked into a situation where he was on the shortlist of teams that could win the title. Hell, he was half a quarter away from being in the NBA Finals as a first-year head coach. He had two absolute stars and quality pieces in Ibaka, Kanter and Adams. He made the lineup work and found something by playing Kanter and Adams together in the San Antonio series.
Now with Durant out of the picture and the team looking more like a No. 4-8 seed in the West, the Thunder have to decide what they want to do with Russell Westbrook. As everyone is aware Westbrook is a free agent after this season and is linked to the Lakers and Knicks, with most people assuming he leaves. Do the Thunder try and trade him at the deadline to get some assets back?
That will likely be the determining factor for Donovan in the NBA. If Westbrook leaves in free agency, it means there will be multiple years in the lottery and trying to get lucky with strong draft picks again. What if a school that Donovan has coaching ties to, like, oh I don’t know, Louisville ends up having to part ways with Pitino? Donovan coached under Pitino, considers him a friend and has experience coaching in Kentucky.
Donovan’s name will start to be the new Brad Stevens. Anytime a major college job opens up, the first thing people will do is play the game of connecting how Donovan can end up there and you’ll see his name on every list. Donovan is a Hall of Fame head coach and has obviously been successful in the college ranks. It would not shock me to see major schools like Louisville – who also has a history of bringing back college coaches from the NBA – make a run at Donovan if Pitino leaves in the next two years.
On the flip side if Westbrook does get traded and the Thunder get back more young pieces, Donovan has a history in development. After his back-to-back titles at Florida, the Gators went to the NIT two years in a row and then lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. After that? Three straight Elite Eights and a Final Four in the next four years. He’s used to these sort of projects and it wouldn’t shock me to see him stay IF Westbrook does get traded and he can build around Sabonis, Kanter, Adams and whatever other draft picks they get.
This tweet has been making me laugh for the last couple of days now. Wichita State’s Conner Frankamp decided to weigh in on the Kevin Durant move. First off, it’s a horrible take, especially when you remember Kobe tried to force his way out of LA. Also, he strikes me as a guy who thinks Kobe is better than LeBron, which is just idiotic.
Beyond that Frankamp hasn’t had the best collegiate career. He transferred from Kansas because he couldn’t beat out other guards for time on the court. He also decided to transfer after the first semester of his sophomore year, which you don’t see too often. Might want to sit another play out, Conner after tweeting about being loyal.
We sat down for episode 25 of Storm the Court to discuss the NBA Free Agency and why it’s okay to like Kevin Durant’s decision. We also talked Malik Newman transfer, the Pac-12 race between Oregon and Arizona and a little bit about Pat Summit.