After leading the Gators to the Final Four for the fourth time in 18 seasons, Florida coach Billy Donovan was on the radar for a few NBA openings this offseason.
Donovan disclosed Thursday he “talked” to a few NBA teams but is happy at Florida. Donovan would not disclose which NBA teams.
“I will say this: I have spoken to a couple of NBA teams, and that’s all I’m going to say,” Donovan said.
Further pressed on the topic, Donovan said: “I got a few calls from a couple NBA teams. I’m going to leave it at that. After the Orlando situation, that’s all I’m saying. That’s it. So I’m not going to get into, ‘He’s lying, he’s not being truthful.’ I got a couple of calls, that’s all it is.”
Donovan of course, left the Gators for the Orlando Magic for six days in 2007, but returned after a change of heart.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported the Minnesota Timberwolves had interest in Donovan, though the Wolves now appear to be leaning toward former NBA player and Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell. The New York Knicks job also remains open, though after losing out on Steve Kerr, team CEO Phil Jackson appears to be interested in either Derek Fisher or Mark Jackson.
Donovan said he “fully plans” on being back next season.
“It’s always flattering,” Donovan said of the NBA attention. “But at the same time, I’ve always said that I’m very happy here and like it here. (Florida athletic director) Jeremy (Foley) has been great here. I like where our program’s at and the direction we’re going.”
A big reason why Donovan is highly thought of in NBA circles has been his ability to develop talent at the next level. There are 12 former Gators currently playing in the NBA and three (David Lee, Joakim Noah, Al Horford) have been All-Stars during their NBA careers. Of the 12 former Gators in the NBA, eight were on playoff rosters. The number could have been as high as 10 if Horford (Atlanta Hawks) was healthy and former Gator point guard Nick Calathes (Memphis Grizzlies) wasn’t serving a PED suspension.
“The thing that I’m most proud about is not the fact that they got to the NBA, it’s that these guys are staying in the NBA,” Donovan said. “These guys are having long careers and they’re playing more than 10 years, and there’s something to be said for that.”