Thursday , Jun , 07 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Billy Donovan & Orlando Magic Officially Part Ways

It’s official: Billy Donovan’s NBA career is over after just a week, the Orlando Magic have released him for his contract so he can return to Florida …. Read Donovan and the Magic’s statement … And find out why this is a win-win for both sides …

What Happened: On Wednesday evening, the officially released Billy Donovan from his contract, allowing the coach to return to Florida.

The Magic released this statement:

“As our signing of Billy Donovan showed, we are committed to winning a championship, the Magic statement said. We have the legal right to hold Billy to the contract he signed, but with him having a change of heart about leaving college basketball, we want him at the University of Florida. We have granted him permission to break his commitment and return to the Gators.”

Donovan, of course, signed a five year, 27 million dollar contract to coach the Magic on Thursday. On Saturday morning, he had a change of heart and decided he wanted out of his contract with Orlando, so he could return to college basketball.

As part of his settlement with the Magic, Donovan won’t be allowed to coach in the NBA for five years. Donovan also released his own statement:

"I realized in less than 24 hours after signing a contract with the Magic that I had made a mistake that had nothing to do with the Magic. Instead, I realized that, in my heart, I belonged in college basketball. As soon as I realized that, I contacted the Magic immediately to let them know. I have enormous respect for the Magic — including the DeVos family, the management, the team and the fans."

 "In these circumstances, it would have been entirely unfair to the Magic and their fans to have continued on. Although this has been a difficult time for everyone, for which I am profoundly sorry, in my heart I know that this is the right thing for the Magic and for me.  It’s my admiration for the whole Magic organization that led me to this course of action. I believe that the Magic has a great future ahead of them, and I wish them all the best."

Donovan will hold a press conference on Thursday to further explain his actions.

My Quick Take: This is a win-win situation for the Magic and Donovan. Orlando couldn’t just let Coach D out of his contract, so he could casually stroll back to the University of Florida. The Magic had to protect their brand. Over the years, they’ve earned a rep as a second-rate NBA franchise. Letting Donovan out of his deal without any repercussions would only further this image as a backwater team.

Right now, they’ve struck the perfect balance in terms of public perception. On the one hand, the Magic look generous for releasing Donovan. On the other had, they don’t look too generous because they made Donovan sweat a bit and got him to sign a non-compete clause.

After all, Orlando’s greatest fear would be Donovan ending up as coach of the .

Donovan gets to return to Florida. This better be what he actually wants because no NBA team will take a sniff in his direction. Forget the non-compete clause, Donovan’s flip-flopping will have scared them off.

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