(via Bleacher Report)

Despite their loss in round one, the Oklahoma City Thunder were the feel-good story of the NBA this season. With no top-tier superstar on the squad, and a discarded CP3 leading the, nobody was expecting much more than a finish at the bottom of the standings.

Instead, the Thunder became the embodiment of team basketball. The collection of talent had such chemistry, fight, and talent, that they were able to make the playoffs as the fifth seed in the conference and push the Houston Rockets to 7 games.

Still, despite their miraculous run, it changes are afoot for the franchise, starting with their (former) head coach, Billy Donovan. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, he will not be returning to coach the team next season.

“We had planned to sit down at the end of the season and discuss the best way to move forward for both of us. After those discussions, it became apparent that we couldn’t provide him the information on the future direction of the team over the next several seasons to give him the level of clarity that he understandably desires at this stage of his career,” Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti said in a statement.

“Therefore, we close this chapter and reflect fondly on all that he has given to the team, organization and community. Billy will always have a place in the Thunder family.”

Discussions between OKC management and Donovan were described as collaborative and realistic, sources said.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the idea that Donovan’s departure might be signaling an upcoming rebuild…

The reality of Oklahoma City’s eventual transition toward a rebuild made it a challenge for the two sides’ to find a way to continue forward together, sources said.

Donovan’s contract expired with the Thunder’s season ending in a Game 7 to the Houston Rockets in the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs.

With reduced league revenues amid the pandemic, there remains uncertainty on how long the Thunder might continue with key veterans in place before changing course on playoff-contention in the Western Conference.

The Thunder showed a lot of promise this season — but were unable to close the deal when it mattered most. With many of their key players at the peak of their trade value, it might be in the Thunder’s best interest to trade them for future assets that they can use to acquire a star.

As for Donovan, Woj named several future employers, including the Pelicans, Bulls, Sixers, and Pacers.

He marks the seventh head coach to be let go this season, and there may be even more in the next few weeks and months.