Donovan has mixed history with Westbrook, Durant after coaching both in OKC

Billy Donovan's first season coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder was 2015-16, when the team built a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals against Golden State, then lost the series.

It was also the last season of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant together in OKC. While Donovan coached Westbrook for three more years, he took some fire from Durant.

Remember the time when Durant tweeted some negative comments about him, apparently forgetting to switch to his burner accounts? Regarding his move to join the Warriors as a free agent, Durant tweeted under his own name, but referred to himself in third person: "He didn't like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan. His roster wasn't that good, it was just him and Russ."

Donovan's relationship with Westbrook seemed to end in much better terms when he was traded to Houston in 2019. After three straight road losses this week, the Bulls are waiting for word that Westbrook has completed a buyout with Utah and is available to sign. He was traded from the Lakers to Utah before the deadline.

Multiple NBA insiders have called the Bulls the front-runners to land Westbrook, but he may not decide for a few more days and likely wouldn't play for a new team until after the all-star break.

"There's definitely been some discussions (about utilizing the buyout market)," Donovan said Saturday in Cleveland, according to NBC Sports Chicago. "We have talked some names, I can't get into all that right now. Arturas (Karnisovas) will speak to agents and find out what the interest is, then you get to the part of a role. What's the role of a player going to be, what are his minutes going to look like, position, expectations."

Miami and the Clippers are thought to be other teams interested in adding Westbrook. Clippers forward Paul George, another former OKC teammate, has publicly recruited Westbrook to join his team. But after all the criticism he took from Lakers fans the past two seasons, maybe Westbrook is ready to take a break from his hometown of Los Angeles.

He could talk to Nate Robinson about how a short stay in Chicago can lift a player's status. Chicago native Anthony Davis shared thoughts about Westbrook's exit from the Lakers.

"I want people to know that overall Russ is a really good dude," Davis said. "I've known Russ since I've been in the league. We have the same agent. Me and him got really close."

Another video clip making the rounds is Donovan talking about Westbrook a couple of years ago. Since leaving OKC, he's played for the Rockets, Wizards and Lakers.

The first three times Westbrook averaged a triple-double for a full season, Donovan was his coach.

"I always felt like as a coach, I never took for that granted that you never have to worry about that guy coming ready to play, ever. He is ready," Donovan said of Westbrook in 2021. "There's going to be more positives than negatives. But I think sometimes when he's playing with new guys, some of the turnovers and things like that is just a product of him getting more comfortable with people he's playing with.

"But you want him aggressive, you want him attacking. That's who he is and that's kind of what made him the player he is."

Meanwhile, the Bulls had a rough week, getting outscored by a combined 97-50 in the fourth quarter while losing to Memphis, Brooklyn and Cleveland.

They have three games before the all-star break: Monday at home against Orlando, Wednesday at Indiana and Thursday vs. Milwaukee.

"It's been (56 games) and we still haven't figured it out," center Nikola Vucevic said of the late-game collapses. "It's obviously a concern. If we keep dropping games like that we might drop out of the play-in, too, so there's a lot at stake."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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