Time to get concerned.
The Orlando Magic fired Brian Hill late Tuesday night, leaving an NBA coaching opening down the road for Florida coach Billy Donovan to ponder.
If approached, expect Donovan to at least listen to what the Magic have to say. As the folly surrounding Donovan’s contract extension continues to muddle through the “process,” the Florida coach is sounding more and more tired of talking about his contract with the media. On Wednesday, Donovan said he would have signed the extension two days after the season if it was offered to him then.
The speculation surrounding his future may have cost Florida heralded recruit Patrick Patterson. Patterson said distance played a role in his decision to sign with Kentucky, but also acknowledged that rumors of Donovan heading to the NBA played a part in the process. Patterson had already been burned by Tubby Smith, who assured him he was staying at Kentucky before leaving for Minnesota.
For now, the two-time defending national championship coach must wait until athletic director Jeremy Foley balances the budget. The process must first go through the University Athletic Association’s compensation committee.
Finding out when the committee meets or who sits on it is akin to asking for classified documents. Repeatedly, I’ve asked when the committee meets only to be told it wasn’t going to be revealed. I’ve filed a public records request that hasn’t been answered yet. Mind you, this isn’t a matter of homeland security, just college basketball.
Can the Magic pry Billy D away from Florida? It’s not likely, considering Donovan’s long-standing relationship and trust of Foley. An NBA source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Donovan is asking for $7 million per season and complete control of basketball operations to coach an NBA team.
It’s a stiff price, but the Magic haven’t been relevant in the NBA since New Kids on the Block topped the charts. The days of Shaq and Penny and T-Mac are long gone. Dwight Howard is a good young player, but needs the kind of guidance that Donovan could potentially provide.
With the Magic building a new downtown arena, and a rabid Gator fan base in Orlando, hiring the hot name who has won two straight national titles might be worth it.