WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. -- Kyle Singler didn't know what to think when the Oklahoma City Thunder hired Billy Donovan. He had heard about the former Florida coach from friends. He had observed from afar what Donovan's collegiate teams accomplished.
Otherwise, he didn't know much about his new coach. That changed quickly, Singler said, as he flew back to Oklahoma City to meet with Donovan -- something Singler said the Thunder had every player do after Donovan’s hiring on April 30.
“It was quick. It was engaging,” Singler said before the Charlie Sanders Have a Heart Save A Life golf tournament in Michigan on Monday. “I didn't really know too much about him so I was walking into it not really expecting much. I didn't know what was going to be talked about. Really liked the things he had to say, liked his demeanor.”
Singler said the meeting, which happened a couple of weeks ago, went right into basketball without the typical small talk.
His meeting may have been different from those of others, though. Singler is approaching free agency, so he is somewhat unsure about where he’ll be playing in the future. He averaged 6.0 points and shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season between Detroit and Oklahoma City. The No. 33 pick in the 2011 draft out of Duke said Donovan didn't get into major specifics during the meeting, but Donovan wanted to learn as much as possible.
“He didn't really get into much talking about [my role],” Singler said. “He just wanted to know what my opinions were with the team last year, what I thought would help the team out next season, stuff like that, style-wise.”
Oklahoma City hired Donovan, who won national championships at Florida in 2006 and 2007, after firing Scott Brooks following a 45-37 record and missing the postseason. Singler didn't want to talk about Brooks because he was a relative newcomer to the Thunder, coming over in a trade from Detroit on Feb. 19.
Singler said he had heard Donovan was in contention for the job and wasn't completely surprised because of what he deemed a recent NBA trend for college coaches to move to the pros. Donovan is joined by Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens (who just completed his second season) and potentially Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, who is a likely candidate for the open position in Chicago.
“Once you do know that your coach is being let go or being fired, you’re always curious on who the next guy is going to be,” Singler said.