Report: Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan seriously considering NBA jump amid interest

By Adam Silverstein
April 2, 2015

Following up on a comment he made in a March column,‘s Marc Stein expanded on his reporting Thursday, noting that Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan is giving serious consideration to moving on from college to coaching in the NBA as soon as next season.

According to Stein, who is citing league sources, NBA executives have been led to believe that Donovan is “looking to make the jump to the NBA more than ever before.”

The interest in Donovan has been consistent from NBA teams since his no-compete clause ran out following the 2011-12 season.

As Stein notes, Cleveland and Minnesota were both after Donovan last season, though he ultimately turned down inquiries from both franchises.

More than a half dozen teams have informally gauged Donovan’s interest since the expiration of that clause, sources close to the coach told in March.

Stein further reports that Donovan is “prepared to make the move this offseason if the ‘right’ opportunity arises.” So far, only Denver and Orlando have openings and “both of those clubs plan to have Donovan on their list of targets.” However, a number of other franchises will change head coaches this offseason, including some that make the NBA Playoffs.

For Donovan, the “right” opportunity would most likely include a heavy amount of organizational control, sources have told regarding Donovan’s NBA interest over the last few years.

With a $500,000 buyout, Donovan can easily be snatched up by an NBA team, despite the fact that he signed a one-year contract extension in Dec. 2014 linking him with the Gators through the 2019-20 season.

Photo Credit: ESPN Images


  1. Ryan says:

    It would be such a shame to do this, does he not see all these coaches getting fired after only a few seasons? I’ll be really upset if he does leave.

  2. 1974Gator says:

    For the sake of being able to say you predicted it first, you would throw our recruiting credibility under the bus. THANKS MARC…you dick!

  3. 1974Gator says:

    Maybe Donavan’s agent should have had the teams he’s contacting sign a non-disclosure before starting conversations.

  4. BRLgator says:

    Good for Billy. He’s a great a coach and given the right situation could succeed in the NBA. I appreciate that he is being selective with what teams/situation he would be open. Ultimately, I hope stays and like Coach K gets the itch to coach in the NBA out of his system by coaching team USA. He appears to be the natural successor to the men’s team.

  5. Lawdog88 says:

    I just can’t see BD dealing with the massive egos, laziness, and entitled attitudes at the pro level.

    I can’t see him calling a timeout with seconds on the clock, drawing up a play, and getting the prima donnas to cooperate. Just don’t see it happening with Billy, a guy who likes to make a difference in men’s lives, trying to make some kind of difference with spoiled men who don’t really give a damn about that.

    Pardon the cynicism, but that’s how I see it playing out, if he goes.

  6. gatorboi352 says:

    And even as this news keeps coming out, players like Finney Smith are choosing to stay their senior year. All fluff.

  7. Ken (CA) says:

    ugh! “your posting too fast slow down” happening again, wiped out my whole post!

  8. Ken (CA) says:

    I have come to the conclusion that eventually it is inevitable that he will try, he really has the bug and wants to try it succeed or fail. I hope he waits a few years until all of his kids are out of school and with his dad so close and everything, but whatever he decides, he is a Hall of Fame coach that has done amazing things at UF that no one ever thought anyone could do on a consistent basis. I could see John Pelfrey or Shaka Smart stepping in and keeping the program going with similar philosophy and style, maybe even 1-2 others but you don’t replace a legend that easily. If he decides to go, NCAA basketball is losing a superstar. I am sure he has talked with Coach K and Petino about his choices as they each made different decisions with same opportunity, but it really sounds like he has the bug and wants to try it. It will be a very sad day for (most) Gator fans if/when he does decide to give it a try.

  9. SW Fl Joe says:

    Somebody is going to write this story every year, only the teams will change. We are just going to have to get use to it. The fact that it will severely effect recruiting will only hasten Billy’s departure

    • 1974Gator says:

      It would help if Donovan didn’t feed the conjecture. He and his agent must be putting the word out. He has been a mainstay for so long you’d think he would find peace and stop playing with devils. Billy, if you are gonna leave get on with it! That’s the way I feel now I will probably feel different tomorrow.
      One thing is certain, I’m tired of the continuous drama. Now it’s Billy with Spurrier, Zook, Urban and Muschamp in the past. What is one of the common denominators? – Foley. Not sure what that means. Let’s cogitate on that for a while.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        I don’t know how you think he is “feeding the conjecture”. He hasn’t said or done anything different than he has every other years. There has never been any secret he wants to coach year round that he lives and breathes basketball. He has been here for 20 years. I hardly think that if Foley were an issue he would have stayed that long as he has had options for jobs just about everywhere else and turned them all down. In fact, I would say Foley is more the reason that he stayed. Comparing Zook, Urban, WM makes no sense. They all had their own issues, 2 of which were fired for poor performance. Not even remotely comparable to Spurrier or Donovan, and even those 2 cases are not really that similar.

        • 1974Gator says:

          If he or his agent (both the same) aren’t having conversations with the NBA then Stein/ESPN is just making it up? BD allows this even though he knows what this sort of drama thing does to his ability to recruit.
          Spurrier and Urban (queen of drama), at the ends of their tenures, were emotionally spent and left with clouds hanging. Zook was attacking frat boys. Drama.
          It seems that any year that Donovan has the opportunity (if he is not restricted from considering change by the Magic) to consider the NBA the rumors start flying. I have to believe that Billy is causing some of this. As the AD, I would think that Foley would be making a stipulation that any contract extension agreement requires that job hunting drama stops for a reasonable period of time.
          You are right that the other coaching examples are not that similar BUT they were all very dramatic prior to each leaving. Muschamp’s was the best example of damage control being in place after he left. I am sure it was because Foley made civil decorum part of the severance package. I believe Foley could do more to reduce the negative publicity.

  10. Gator Miami says:


    Now that Shaka Smart is going to Texas, who would be Billy D’s top replacements?