After the Florida Gators’ record-setting basketball season, it’s little surprise that NBA teams would cast their lecherous eyes Billy Donovan’s way. On Thursday, Donovan acknowledged as much when talking with the media.
“I have spoken to a couple NBA teams, and that’s all I’m going to say,” Donovan said. “It’s always flattering, but at the same time, I’ve always said that I’m very happy here and like it here.”
According to ESPN, one of the teams interested in Donovan is the Cleveland Cavaliers. A team, you might remember, who has batted its eyelashes before at college coaches – in 2010 with Tom Izzo and most recently with Kevin Ollie.
Now, before we all run off a cliff like a bunch of crazed lemmings, or hold a candlelight vigil in Haile Plantation, let’s take a step back and breathe. This is most certainly not the first time he has been contacted by the NBA (even beyond the Orlando situation), nor will it be the last. Do not panic.
Consider this: Tom Izzo’s name gets thrown out there still, Mike Krzyzewski was rumored for the Lakers job a few years back, and 63-year-old Roy Williams has been mentioned for the current Lakers position. Teams float names. Guys talk to each other. It could be formal phone calls; it could be on the golf course.
Second, Donovan works for the best athletic director in all of sports. Do not discount loyalty. Donovan was Foley’s first banner hire, and the two men have essentially hitched their wagons to the top of college athletics. While there is undeniably a curiosity to working in the NBA, Billy Donovan enjoys carte blanche like only a small grouping of coaches professional or college. To walk out the door, he will likely have to pass up a Godfather offer from Foley and leave a place he feels comfortable.
Beyond that, it’s hard to see Florida planning major renovations to the O’Dome with a coach who has one foot out the door. Construction for the complex is welcome, but not a necessity. It is certainly not an undertaking to be had without the prospect of a consistent, winning program.
Donovan has said in the past that he just wants to coach basketball. Everything else <cough>NCAA ridiculousness<cough> is a drag. He’s tired of the minutia.
With that in mind, here’s a conspiracy theory. Jeremy Foley and Bernie Machen throw whatever cache they have at Jerry Colangelo and Team USA basketball to have Billy D as the next coach. Krzyzewski has intimated that he wants to step down, which leaves the door wide open. Donovan can coach the top tier NBA players in international competition. He does not have to deal with front office headaches, salary caps and 82-game grinds. He gets a crop of guys that want to be there, love to play the game, and are down to represent the country. In short: Billy Donovan would just get to coach.
You never truly know what is happening behind the scenes, but Donovan has done nothing for fans to take him at anything less than face value. Until its anything more than hearsay, Florida fans should sit back, relish that their guy is the belle of the ball, and know that people outside of Gainesville finally recognize that UF has a basketball program.