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May 22, 2014
Notebook: Donovan's NBA talks not serious
Billy Donovan grew up going to New York Knicks games, buying $5 tickets near the rafters of Madison Square Garden and sneaking down as close as he could to the floor. When the Knicks' head coaching job opened during the spring, it created natural questions about whether or not this could be the job that draws Donovan. But there was never substance.
Talks continued when the Minnesota Timberwolves showed brief interest in a trio of college coaches that included Donovan. The team recently said its talks with him were nothing serious.
In other words, don't expect any career changes from Donovan at the moment.
"It's always flattering, but at the same time, I've always said that I'm very happy here and like it here. Jeremy has been great here. I like where our program's at and the direction we're going," Donovan said. "I fully expect to be back (at Florida) next season."
Because of his infamous six days as coach of the Orlando Magic in June 2007, Donovan tends to be fairly guarded about what he says regarding the National Basketball Association and his possible aspirations to coach at the highest level. He has said in the past the NBA intrigues him because of the idea of strictly having to deal with basketball and not the outside factors that come into the college game.
He has emphasized in the past he does not want to make a definitive statement that turns into something the public can point to as a "lie."
"I'll say all it is. I got a few calls from a couple NBA teams. I'm going to leave it at that," Donovan said. "After the Orlando situation, that's all I'm saying. That's it. So I'm not going to get into, 'He's lying, he's not being truthful.' I got a couple of calls, that's all it is."
Asked if the phone calls were brief, Donovan replied: "Yes, yes, yes."
-- AN UNCEREMONIOUS GOODBYE --
Wednesday, news became official that center Damontre Harris would not return to Florida for the 2014-2015 academic year and basketball season. After Donovan gave him a final chance following an initial dismissal in December, he said the undisciplined Harris did not respond to the requests asked of him if he was going to be welcomed back as an official member of the Gators.
"The things we were talking about is like going to class, being on time, being in the weight room, lifting, showing up to practice, those kind of things," Donovan said. "Basically we evaluated him over that two and a half, three months over that second semester and clearly nothing had changed at all. And I was just not going to have him come back in this kind of situation."
Donovan said he had only spoken to Harris via text message since the end of the season and has not even had that much contact in a significant amount of time. He is unaware of Harris' future plans. The two has scheduled a meeting to discuss where Harris planned to go from Florida, but Donovan said Harris did not show up to the meeting.
"I would be doing him a disservice as a coach to push him through the system and just try to keep him eligible and get him to the floor," he said. "I would do anything I could to help him. I don't think that he's a bad kid."
-- THIS AND THAT --
* Donovan said guard Eli Carter is currently "80-85 percent" in his recovery from a leg injury that kept him out of action during the 2013-2014 season. "Our trainer feels very confident he'll be 100 percent by the time we start practicing in October. He's made some really good strides. Him playing last year would've prolonged that healing process for him in getting ready to play."
* Guard Dillon Graham, who dealt with bone spurs in both hips that required surgery, is not expected to be cleared for any form of contact until September.