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Report: Florida coach Billy Donovan more interested in NBA jump than ever

SEC Basketball Tournament - Ky v Fla

during the quaterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Andy Lyons

Florida coach Billy Donovan was once so enamored with the NBA, he accepted the Orlando Magic’s coaching vacancy in 2007.

Days later, he backed out of the deal and returned to Florida.

He’s still apparently interested in the pros.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

There is a growing sense among NBA executives that Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan is looking to making the jump to the NBA more than ever before, according to league sources
The Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic are the only NBA teams currently employing an interim coach, but sources say both of those clubs plan to have Donovan on their list of targets once they began more expansive coaching searches after completing their respective regular-season schedules in April.

Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun:

Florida coach Billy Donovan has signed an amended, one-year extension through the 2020 season that will raise his average salary to a shade over $4 million per year.
The buyout on Donovan’s contract remains at $500,000, though the veteran coach has a window from March 1 to April 1 to end the agreement without paying it.

If an NBA team wants Donovan, that relatively low buyout shouldn’t be a problem.

The bigger issue: Donovan must convince teams he’s serious about the NBA after the Orlando incident.

Donovan was linked to the Timberwolves job last summer, but he decided to stay at Florida. But nobody put out word Donovan is extremely interested in the NBA, as is the case now. At some point, NBA teams will back off if Donovan keeps leading them down dead-end roads.

That’s why I think it’s more likely than not Donovan jumps this offseason. I doubt this report would emerge now if that weren’t the case – though it will depend which jobs open and how Donovan feels he fits.