Sports Outside the Beltway

Billy Donovan not going to the Orlando Magic?

It looks like the UF coach has changed his mind.

The Orlando Magic today will allow Billy Donovan out of his 5-year, $27.5 million contract that he signed on Friday.

“It’s over,” said a source close to the situation.

Donovan had reservations about leaving the Florida Gators for the NBA on Friday and spent all weekend trying to find a way to get out of his contract. On Saturday, Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith went to Gainesville to try to convince Donovan to honor the deal. Smith talked with Donovan again on Sunday, and so did Magic President Bob Vander Weide.

Unless Donovan wakes up today and changes his mind, the Magic will let him go, the source said.

Almost everyone at Florida, from people on his staff to other NBA coaches to even his wife, told Donovan to go to the Magic — but after Friday’s emotional news conference in Gainesville, he started thinking he might have made a mistake. That was the first time he even mentioned there being a problem.


On Monday morning, Joel Glass, vice president for communications for the Magic, released a statement:

“While Central Florida, the Orlando Magic and Billy were energized with the announcement of his contract signing on Friday, we know there was a different feeling in Gainesville and people have been tugging at him since that time. Billy is conflicted with those emotions and the opportunity he has ahead in Orlando and in the NBA. We’ve had numerous conversations and a personal visit in Gainesville with Billy over the last 48 hours and we have a commitment from him that the dialogue between us will continue.”

I thought all along that Donovan was going to stay in Gainesville. Coaching in the NBA is a whole different affair than college ball and the Magic are a mediocre team at best. The money and close proximity to his current job, were inviting, but Donovan has job security where he is. In five years or less, Billy could be looking for work again. Do you trade long term stability for short term gain? I wonder if that’s what went through Billy’s mind.

This about face may destroy any chance for Donovan to become a NBA coach, but who knows. Some franchises are desperate(like in any team sport). The Gators will be happy to have their coach back, that is for certain.

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