Bulls Hire Billy Donovan As Head Coach

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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33 thoughts on “Bulls Hire Billy Donovan As Head Coach

    • dust44

      I think he is perfect for Chicago. I thought he’d end up in philly. But this is a great fit as well. He will get the most out of Markkanen and Carter if they can stay healthy.

      • PutoBelga12

        harden-westbrook-mvps You mad that your team got bounced again and are now left with no coach, no draft picks, no cap space? At least you have the two best choker MVPs of all time in Harden and Westbrook, so the foundation is pretty solid, right?

  1. Sillivan

    I give a thumb to Bulls new GM

    If Westbrook does not fit into Mike Dantoni system then Ben Simmons doesn’t fit either

  2. Sillivan

    Two months ago I suggested that Knicks should hire Donovan,fans thought I was crazy

    • PutoBelga12

      The Knicks should not hire any coach, it’s a waste of money for the franchise, of time for the players and it can save the professional lives of the coach himself. That franchise isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so why pretend?

  3. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Good job security, didn’t want to go anywhere with high expectations and get fired once again. All he has to do in Chicago is win 20-25 games and his job will be safe.

  4. fightinfisch

    Never been an nba fan, love the college game. This won’t change my view, although this looks like a fantastic hire by the new regime.

  5. Chucktoad1

    Donovan’s a good coach, but are the Bulls any better than the Thunder as far as being in a rebuild and such?

  6. x%sure

    Makes no sense. Donovan quit OKC because they may be rebuilding. So he goes to a rebuilder? Now I doubt that story.
    This is pie-in-the-sky stuff from CHI management.

    TBH. Chicago the city is seething. They should have hired black, and I say that as no fan of the racial way the restart was dedicated.
    By hiring a HC whose merits cannot be disputed, they seem to want to make sure to get a white coach in place. Thibs & Boylen, predecessors, all 3 coplike. This is not the venue for a stand. I have a rare desire to hear StephenASmith! That will pass.

    • phillyballers

      Maybe he wasn’t going to have input on the rebuild? Tired of the OKC life? Looking for a change of scenery? His contract was over, a lame duck HC as they say. Players can leave as FAs but not coaches?

      • x%sure

        You think he can bulldoze Karnisova more than Presti? That is likely, but not Karnisova’s motivation for hiring.
        He could have stayed in the running for a more talented team.
        I wonder if this was planned beforehand.

    • DeathbyDeathwest

      Tbh, to the extent Chicago is “seething” about the Bulls, it is still focused on trading Butler and Rose or for not bringing back Phil Jackson for another run.

      Okc is about to tear down further and are probably 3+ years from returning to the playoffs. If you believe in Markkanen and think you can deal with Lavine, Chicago is closer to making the playoffs. Like the Nuggets and Heat, just make the show and anything is possible.

      But this is Billy Donovan, so get ready for some 1st round exits.

      • x%sure

        The bigger picture is that Chicago is seething about racial injustice and already had a high murder rate. The city’s basketball HC has more widespread significance than in other places where he’s just a coach (like Cleveland where the HC is not a big deal).

        It would be an easy gesture to benefit the anger in the area, while frankly in basketball terms, the choice will not likely make much difference anyway. I mean just hire Udoka and shuttup. The Bulls are deep IMO but have zero championship players in place.

        • stevep-4

          Uh, I actually live in Chicago and gree up here. If Chicago is seething (which I see no evidence of), it isn’t about the Bulls hiring a competent coach. Also, please stop watching Fox News fir your take on what’s happening here, sorry but this city is not some kind of war zone. I live in a minority neighborhood and mostly people complain about potholes and lack of parking – and wages not keeping up with rents.

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      You hire whomever you feel is the best candidate for the job, and nothing else matters. It’s hard not to see Donovan as that guy. You said yourself his merits cannot be disputed.

  7. scotthhh

    Any issue with him being a white coach with so many qualified non-white candidates?

    • jump shot

      They interviewed some Black coaches but they knew that was just window dressing…
      That said, the hire is a good fit for the Bulls and Boylen. Oops… I mean Vinny Del Negro. I meant Thibodeau. My bad, again… Skiles. Sorry, I mean Jim BoyLAN! Damn… Fred Hoiberg, sorry.
      Aaahhh… Billy Donovan! Yeah, Billy Donovan!

  8. KnickerbockerAl

    Donovan is all hype. Needs to go back to college. He inherited a talented young Thunder team. Then blew a 3-1 lead to Warriors. And never recovered. Lost in 1st rd every yr since. Look at his rosters. He’s not a difference maker. Has lived of the talent he’s inherited. And now that it’s dried up. And has done nothing to maximize it. He’s walking cause he doesn’t want to be part of rebuild. Total underachiever. Bulls have young talent. Let’s see if he blows this up too. Never like him as a pro coach. He inherited max nba talent. Did nothing with it but regress. Wish the Bulls luck they will need it.

    • Andy Mak

      I would concentrate more on your team and the fact that your new head coach which used to be ours, will run your whole roster into the ground… whole roster meaning his 8 rotation. Thibs glory came at the hands of D Rose. Who you got brah?

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