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Three things came to an end this weekend. The Pistons season will go no further after LeBron James and Boobie Gibson put the finishing touches on Cleveland's first-ever Eastern Conference title, a model train store in New Jersey won't be able to count on mob dollars helping them make rent and Billy Donovan won't be getting more offers to coach NBA basketball teams.
Hours after agreeing to take over the head coaching job of the Orlando Magic Donovan changed his mind and started the process of slinking back to Gainesville. It's believed that Donovan signed a contract with the Magic which means that it's up to Orlando to let him return and it's up to Orlando whether or not they will pursue action against the indecisive coach for breaking that contract. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that they've agreed to let Donovan go back to Florida and that the team is now focusing their coaching search on Stan Van Gundy but there's no shortage of uncertainty on any side of the equation.
What happened to turn Donovan into basketball's version of Bill Belichick? He began having second thoughts after the news conference to announce the signing on Friday and immediately began trying to renege on his deal with the NBA club. Reports out of Florida point to the fact that Donovan felt like he was under a lot of pressure to make a quick decision and that led to his making a choice that didn't sit well with him. Smells like bullshit from here. The Magic needed a head coach and, understandably, wanted to know if Donovan would be that coach before they went on to make an offer to another candidate. When Donovan is recruiting players to come and play for the Gators he does exactly the same thing. The timetable is what it is, if Donovan wasn't ready to make a choice then that's what he should have told the team and allowed them to go with Van Gundy or whoever. The same way that Donovan wouldn't sit around and wait for one high school senior to make up his mind before making sure that he signs other players who fill his needs.
If Donovan does harbor a desire to coach in the NBA he didn't do himself any favors with the way he handled the situation. There aren't going to be a raft of job openings with teams that have young stars like Dwight Howard and play in areas that would allow him to move without totally uprooting his family. So if his wont is to go and coach a team that is in decent shape, offers him a lot of money and won't cause his life to change drastically Donovan really screwed up by passing on this deal. We didn't get why he was toying with leaving Florida in the first place but if he was going to leave now was the time to do it. Bobby Cremins never recovered at Georgia Tech after flirting with South Carolina. His recruiting suffered, his teams never succeeded at the same level and it's difficult to believe that those things didn't go hand-in-hand with a belief that his heart really wasn't in the job anymore. It will take years for Donovan to convince people that he's sold on being the head coach of the Florida Gators and not thinking about jumping to another job.
Not that he'll be getting many more substantial offers. He turned down Kentucky and after screwing over the Magic it's hard to imagine many teams going through the motions with Donovan when there's so little reason to believe anything that comes out of his mouth. The Magic sold 200 season tickets in the brief period Donovan posed as their head coach. Those people weren't forking over their cash to see J.J. Redick impersonate a NBA shooting guard nor was it the regret of missing many seasons of Magic basketball. That was all about Donovan's name and his resume and he's left the team holding the bag and looking like amateurs. The Magic are making the right and classy decision by allowing him to leave, if that report is true, but if those fans want their money back it should come from Donovan's pocket.
Billy comes across like a huge flake, even if it can be spun as "his heart was in college hoops," which is wonderful, but still. When you change your mind AFTER you sign the $27.5 million contract and hold all the press conferences, that's not just a simple mulligan to forget about. Unless he stays at Florida
So what brought about this change of heart from Billy Donovan? APIAS has a few ideas…
- With gas prices so high, the commute was just too expensive.
- The Magic Kingdom wasn’t as magical as he thought.
- The idea of coaching Bo Outlaw.
- College Girls.
- Neither Shaq nor Penny Hardaway are on the roster.
Whatever the reason Donovan’s stint with the Magic is most likely over. Unless the Magic refuse to let him out of his contract, Donovan is most likely headed back to the University of Florida. Congratulations Coach Donovan your NBA coaching career lasted longer than a Britney Spears rehab stint and with your integrity in tact you can return to the University of Florida as Head Men’s Basketball Coach and Urban Meyer’s bitch. (A Pudge Is A Sandwich)
It’s gotta be the women in Gainesville. Anyone been to the campus? More talent than any other campus we’ve visited. That, or he was allergic to the idea of coaching Vince Carter. (The Big Lead)
I stated before he took the Magic job that the odds were against him, and if he wanted control, he needed to stay in the college ranks. But how much of a suckjob is this to pull on a team that actually, wasn’t such a bad place to go if you were going to make the jump with Dwight Howard, Darko Milicic, and other players that could be molded into a fairly good team in the East? (Signal to Noise)
The biggest question now is how will the fans react? Will they welcome him back with open arms? Will they be suspicious, always wondering when the next NBA team will try to lure him away? Personally, I think the two championship trophies in Gainesville speak for themselves, but BillyD might want to carry them around with him on campus for a while just to remind everyone. (Sports Oasis)