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Monday, June 04, 2007

Pardon my French, but WTF!?

Orlando Magic will allow Billy Donovan to return to Florida
Dave Curtis and Lynn Hoppes Sentinel Staff Writer

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.

The Sentinel visited Donovan's house early this morning, and UF assistant basketball coach Larry Shyatt answered the door. He said Donovan would not comment.

"You guys can't talk to him now," Shyatt said.

Messages left with UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley on Sunday were not returned. UF spokesman Fred Demarest said Sunday night that the school would have no comment. Messages left for Magic officials -- Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins and General Manager Otis Smith -- were not returned.

Donovan was hired as Magic head coach Thursday and introduced in his new job Friday, the end of a weeklong Magic courtship. Donovan appeared confident in his decision in news conferences in Gainesville and in Orlando, but things changed.

Foley flew to Richmond, Va., on Saturday to interview Anthony Grant, the Virginia Commonwealth University coach. Grant is a former Gators assistant and the leading candidate to replace Donovan.

But that meeting never happened -- Foley flew away from Richmond after learning of Donovan's second thoughts before the athletic director even left the airport's grounds.

That's when the Magic's Smith leaped into action. He went up to Gainesville to try to convince Donovan he was making the right decision. But Donovan still was waffling.

That's why Grant, who was the front-runner and was looking to make $6 million over 5 years at Florida, issued a statement Sunday night saying he has had no in-person contact with UF officials and hasn't received an offer to be Florida's head coach.

"I have been contacted by the University of Florida regarding their coaching vacancy," the statement said. "I have not had any in-person contact with any Florida representative, nor have I been offered the job.

"At this point in time, I will have no further comment on this situation as my focus is on my responsibilities at VCU."

Grant, who emerged Thursday as the top and seemingly lone candidate to replace Donovan, spoke with several Rams recruits and their coaches Thursday and Friday to prepare them for his possible departures.

Donovan did not attend Florida's boys basketball camp, which started Sunday afternoon on campus. He was at home trying to find guidance on his future.

Several members of his staff, including Shyatt, ran the camp. In his news conferences Friday, Donovan said Shyatt would join him with the Magic. In fact, Donovan talked with the Magic about Shyatt's new contract that afternoon.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, reached at home early this morning, said he had heard nothing about Donovan possibly backing out of the deal. After learning of the report from a Sentinel reporter, Dyer said he still had no comment.

Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons, high-profile recruits from Lake Howell High School who signed with the Gators, had communicated with each other late Sunday night but indicated they had not heard from UF's coaching staff.

It's unclear whether the Magic will ask for a settlement to allow Donovan to break his contract. It's also unclear where the Magic will be turning to now, but the second choice behind Donovan had always been ex-Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy.


  • At 2:52 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Today is my birthday. I don't celebrate my birthday, but for some reason there is some kind of twisted irony with this report hitting on the same day. I guess it's because I love the Magic, yet somehow, they just never get any breaks.

    At the same time, I'm not surprised... This kind of stuff just happens to the Magic. If these reports are true, and Donovan backs out; this is a major blow. I don't think it gets anymore odd and unprofessional than this...

    The worst part is, even if he does stay, this talk had to start from somewhere. If he stays, it'll likely be for the money.

    Regardless, we should expect one hell of an interesting press conference.

    It sucks for the 300+ fans that bought season tickets on Friday; ha-ha.

  • At 4:39 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    When I first saw the breaking news on the late ESPN SportsCenter SUN night, I just about hit the floor in shock. This was the last thing I would have expected. On Friday, Donovan seemed so happy and sure of his decision, and seemed to realize what a great opportunity this was to be coaching the Magic, not to mention the huge raise he would be getting.

    Maybe Billy will have a good night's sleep, and will decide on Monday to stay on as Magic coach, but from what I've heard, that doesn't seem too likely now.

    This is really a complete downer. As we all have discussed, he would have been the perfect fit to get the most out of this young, talented Magic team.

    Whoever they get as coach now, it will obviously be an upgrade over Brian Hill, but it will take quite a while to be excited over it because of everything that's transpired the last few days.

    Because the Magic have a signed contract from Donovan, I don't think they would let him out of the contract scot-free... I do expect some kind of financial penalty Donovan would have to pay back to the Magic.

    OVERWADED, your birthday is going to be an easy day to remember from now on... the day that the Magic lost Billy Donovan. Good thing you don't celebrate your birthday, because for us die-hard Magic fans, there is certainly nothing to celebrate today.

  • At 8:25 AM, Anonymous GatorGoddess said…

    Billy Donovan needs to do what's best for his family and himself. Nobody OWNS these coaches. I hope he returns to UF, but whatever he decides to do he's a great coach and an even better human being.

  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    Wow. (And happy b'day OW, it happens to be mine as well.)

    Just read this now. Quite a shock.

    I was talking about Donovan with my dad this weekend and he asked me what I thought. I told him I thought Donovan would last 3 to 4 years with the Magic and wind up coaching another college team whether he was a success or not with the Magic.

    And I thought it was a mistake for Donovan but I was happy that he picked the Magic rather than some other NBA team. I thought Donovan should stay in G'ville and eventually coach in a building named after him.

    Darko wanted to play for Donovan.

    Now I don't know what to think. Donovan is tarnished by this, and the Magic have officially become the 1980's Bucs. Bill Parcels anyone?

    What now? Rick Carlisle? Larry Brown? (I'm sure Darko would love that.) Some other NBA recycle? Or maybe the Magic should go hire Anthony Grant, he's probably still standing in his driveway waiting for Foley to arrive.


  • At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Van Gundy is a better coach, what's all the crying.

  • At 12:18 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Gatorgoddess,have you ever looked up the word integrity in the dictionary,i think you should. I too was shocked like everyone else,in my opinion whether or not donovan wanted to return to florida isnt the problem,the problem is the lie's he told to us on friday in not just one,not two,but three different interview's/press conference's. Donovan is a man that lacks intellect and integrity,and i wouldnt want him to coach anything for me,his coaching abilities have nothing to do with it. Calling him a great coach isnt true yet,he's a great COLLEGE COACH,but thats it,calling him an even better human being is a joke. The day he grabs an ounce of integrity let me know. To me,how can the magic keep this guy if his heart isnt in it? I am a logical person,so i understand wanting to stay,but you dont waffle about it for four days,then call and accept the position,then hold numerous press conferences saying how "I want to coach in the nba for a new challenge,to further who i am as a coach"(who will give him the chance to burn them now?)to then say i made a mistake and i want to go back,are you kidding thats no great human being,thats a man who lacks integrity. He should be honest with himself before accepting 27 million dollars,thats the only problem i have with him,he can do what he wants and coach where ever he wants,but take the time HOWEVER LONG IT TAKES to make the best decision for him and his family BEFORE accepting the position,is he a guy thats makes decision upon impulse without intellect? I THINK SO!!!!! Billy the kid is a perfect name for him,cause he still is,i thought a man of his word was taking the job.

  • At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    gatorgoddess, quit giving eddie muster shyatt and face the facts: Donovan is a punk. The magic need to extract about a million from somebody over the breached contract, if he signed it. Unless there was a "widdle baby has his feewings hurt" clause in it.

  • At 12:54 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    The magic shouldnt convince him to stay,and there should be harsh penalties for donovan. Even if i werent a magic fan i'd feel this way,i dont like liar's.

  • At 12:57 PM, Blogger Ken said…

    Well said big figure. It just goes to show what kind of person gatorgoddes is by the comments she or he makes. This is a blessing in disguise. Better the Magic found out now how weak and unprofessional this douche bag really is. Donavan has lost all credibility outside of gainesville. No one outside of UF will ever believes a thing that comes out of his mouth ever again. He has burned his bridge into the NBA.

  • At 1:13 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    I'm witcha ken!!!

  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Well said BIG and Ken. I'm with you guys.

    People like this shouldn’t surprise me, because people feed one another loads of crap every second of everyday. We live in a world of liars. But what Donovan is doing really is at the bottom of the well.

    And I think the "Billy the Kid" comment pretty much sums it up.


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