Coming off a Final Four season, Florida coach Billy Donovan’s name is being floated in NBA circles again.
This time, it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to plugged in ESPN.com NBA reporter Marc Stein, the NBA franchise from the great white north is considering Donovan as a replacement for retired head coach Rick Adelman. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg also are potential candidates.
Wolves vowing comprehensive search to find coach who can help them persuade Kevin Love to stay. Donovan, I’m told, has emerged as new target
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 21, 2014
There is a natural connection in Minnesota in that Donovan would be reunited with T’wolves forward Corey Brewer, whom he coached to back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007. And there is thinking that Donovan could lure a number of former players who are having success in the NBA as free agents. Of the 12 former Gators in the NBA, eight are playing in the NBA playoffs. That number could have been as high as 10 if Hawks center Al Horford didn’t suffer a season-ending injury and Grizzlies point guard Nick Calathes wasn’t suspended due to the league’s substance abuse policy.
Donovan didn’t exactly quash interest in coaching in the NBA when asked about it last month in Orlando.
“I got into coaching because of the basketball piece of it, and there is an intrigue as it relates to (the NBA),” Donovan said. “When you try to project where your future is, where you’re going to be, and you don’t know because I don’t have a crystal ball, all I can say is I am happy here at Florida. I love being here.
“The NBA part of it, the intrigue part of it for me, is just the fact that it’s basketball 24 hours a day. That’s all you’re dealing with is basketball.”
Donovan recently signed a contract extension through 2019 that will pay him an average salary of $3.7 million per season. He’s the fifth-highest paid coach in college basketball and second-highest paid coach in the SEC behind Kentucky’s John Calipari ($5.2 million per season).
Donovan has led Florida to two national titles, four Final Fours and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in 18 seasons. In 2007, after guiding UF to the second of back-to-back national titles, Donovan talked with the Memphis Grizzlies and accepted the Orlando Magic head coaching job on June 1. But citing a change of heart, Donovan returned to UF six days later.
From a recruiting standpoint, the timing of Donovan’s name being connected with the Timberwolves couldn’t come at a worse time. The Gators are wooing Michigan transfer forward Jon Horford and have scheduled an in-home visit with 2014 forward prospect Jackson Davis this week. Both players will likely pose questions to Donovan about his future intentions.