Timing is everything. It’s just a simple truth not just in life but also in basketball. And right now the Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping they got the timing right in firing Scott Brooks and hiring Billy Donovan. It has little to do with whether or not Donovan can succeed on the NBA level, which I believe he will. The question about the firing and hiring is the timing of it. Brooks has been the same coach for the last couple of years. So it’s interesting that Sam Presti and the Thunder believed that this year, a year that saw both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook miss games due to injuries would be his last year.
The timing of hiring Donovan is that he is now taking over a team whose expectation is championship or bust. There is no just make the playoffs mentally. Donovan will be under an enormous amount pressure to deliver what Brooks failed to do in his tenure as head coach, the pressure to have an offense that utilizes the strengths of Durant and Westbrook. Welcome to the NBA Billy.
Donovan will have to get the players to buy in to his game plan and be able to control the locker room. Donovan has a tough task ahead but at the same time he is now the head coach of team that has two of the leagues best players in Durant and Westbrook. Coaches would give anything to have the problems Donovan will face.
The most interesting part of this coaching change is the summer of 2016 or the summer of Durant. It’s all about timing, which is why you have to ask the question; why wait to fire Brooks till this year and hire Donovan with this possibly being Durant’s last year. Why only give Donovan one year with Durant to try and convince him to stay in Oklahoma? Why not hire Donovan a season ago and give two seasons to get Durant to buy in. Now Donovan not only has to take this team back to the finals but also keep this franchises most important player it’s ever had to stay and believe in him.
If that wasn’t enough Donovan will also have to do the same thing with Westbrook who becomes a free agent in 2017. Donovan is in the thick of things right from the start. The Thunder sure picked an interesting time to switch to a different captain to steer the ship with their future hanging in the balance next season.
The clock is ticking on the Thunder and now on Donovan to maximize the potential the Thunder posses. For that championship window that everyone once thought would last a decade could close in a hurry if its stars players, who liked and went to bat for their former coach, don’t buy and trust the new coach and the direction of the franchise.
All this leads to an interesting and entertaining season ahead for the Thunder, in particular for Durant, Westbrook and Donovan. It can either be the start of something new and special or the end of a run in OKC. Only time will tell.