5:18pm: The Bulls have officially announced Donovan as their new head coach.
“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls. The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level,” Karnisovas said in a statement. “We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster. Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”
5:00pm: The Bulls and Billy Donovan have reached a deal that will make him Chicago’s new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
According to Wojnarowski, new Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas “aggressively pursued” Donovan this month, as he and GM Marc Eversley felt that the former Thunder coach was the best candidate available.
Donovan, who had spent the last five years in Oklahoma City, parted ways with the Thunder following their elimination from the postseason earlier this month. He compiled a 243-157 (.608) regular-season record with the franchise during that time, making the postseason in each of his five years in OKC. He did arguably his most impressive work in 2019/20, guiding a roster that wasn’t viewed as playoff-ready to the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.
While the Thunder reportedly had interest in retaining Donovan, there was a sense that the veteran coach didn’t want to stick around through a rebuilding process. In Chicago, he won’t be taking over a team that’s ready to immediately contend, but Karnisovas and the Bulls sold him on a “partnership and vision for a talented young roster,” as well as a chance to lead one of the NBA’s marquee franchises, says Wojnarowski.
The Bulls had been in the market for a new head coach since dismissing Jim Boylen in mid-August. At the time, Karnisovas indicated the team would conduct a comprehensive search and would focus on hiring someone who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator.”
Among the candidates interviewed by Chicago, Kenny Atkinson, Ime Udoka, Darvin Ham, and Wes Unseld Jr. were said to have made good impressions in their meetings with the organization. However, Donovan was always viewed as a strong candidate for the job, having been linked to the Bulls immediately after his departure from Oklahoma City.
With Donovan off the market, a handful of teams still in the midst of their coaching searches will have to look elsewhere. The former Florida Gators coach was said to be on the Sixers‘ short list and reportedly met with the Pacers as well.
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