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Florida’s Donovan not closing the door on NBA

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Florida coach Billy Donovan continues to say he plans to return to the Gators for his 19th season, but he admits he is still intrigued with the NBA.

Donovan, speaking at the SEC spring meetings at Sandestin, Fla., on Tuesday, said previously he had spoken to a couple of teams about their coaching vacancies, but would not offer specifics.

There are currently five NBA openings: Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I think when you start making guarantees about life and start making guarantees about where you’re going to be, that’s not good,” Donovan said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “If for some reason I ever change my mind and did something, I wouldn’t want (people) saying, ‘Well, he promised, he guaranteed, he said this on record.’ I just think when you start doing that, that’s a mistake.

“I’ve seen a lot of coaches over the years come out and say, ‘No, no, no, no, I’m not going anywere, I’m not going anywhere,’ and then all of a sudden they go somewhere and it’s like, ‘Well, this guy is a complete liar.’ I don’t want to get into that situation. There’s been some teams that have called, but that’s really it.

“All I can say is I love Florida, I’m happy here, Jeremy’s been great, the school’s been great to me,” he said, referring to athletic director Jeremy Foley. “But at the same point, some of the NBA stuff, as I’ve said before, is intriguing in a lot of ways — the basketball part of it. That’s not to say that I’m unhappy here; that’s not the case at all.”

Donovan, who turns 49 on Friday, signed a three-year contract extension in February to keep him at Florida through the 2018-19 season and pay him $3.7 million annually.

Donovan briefly left for the NBA in 2007 for the Orlando Magic but after six days returned to Gainesville.

Donovan coached the Gators last season to the Final Four for the fourth time. The Gators won two national championships under Donovan in 2006 and 2007.

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