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Kevin Durant ‘excited’ by Billy Donovan hire: ‘I can’t wait to get started’

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Kevin Durant came out and publicly supported the hiring of Billy Donovan as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s next head coach, saying that the team is “excited” about it and that he personally “can’t wait to get started.”

Donovan was named the Thunder’s new head coach on Thursday and is expected to be formally introduced by the team on Friday. Given Durant’s close relationship with the ousted Scott Brooks, his first comments about Donovan would serve as an interesting, initial litmus test to how the superstar perceived the significant shakeup in the organization.

It’s safe to say from his comments that Durant, who has yet to speak with his new coach, wholeheartedly endorses the Donovan hiring, at least according to how it looks on paper.

Donovan has never coached at the NBA level, although he did have a dalliance with the Orlando Magic in 2007 before abruptly backing out and returning to Florida. Durant, currently rehabbing after a third surgery on his foot ended his already-injury-plagued 2014-15 season, was asked about the relative importance of Donovan being an NBA head coaching neophyte.

“I wouldn’t say it matters,” Durant said, via ESPN’s Royce Young. “If you know how to coach a team, that’s all that matters. He’s been at one of the highest levels of basketball and won a title. That’s tough to do.

“So you can’t just downplay what he’s done in the college ranks and just automatically say he’s not going to be great in the pros. He produced a lot of pros, and they all love him.

“The only thing that will be different, to be honest, is just the schedule and the amount of practice time you may have and the travel. But other than that, I think he’ll adapt pretty quickly.”

Obviously, only time will tell in how Donovan’s coaching style and system will mesh with Durant’s personality and game. There certainly will be a feeling-out period for both men, but how the relationship between the two develops will go a long way in determining whether Durant remains in a Thunder uniform after the 2015-16 NBA season when he can become an unrestricted free agent.