Coaching Rumors: Donovan, Billups, Bjorkgren, Walton

Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas made a personal connection with Billy Donovan that helped him land his new coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this morning on “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” (video link). After Donovan left the Thunder two weeks ago, Karnisovas wanted to set up a meeting right away, according to Woj. The Bulls executive flew to Donovan’s Florida home a few days later and was able to sell him on the job.

Wojnarowski notes that Chicago has a recent history of taking chances on college coaches and veteran assistants, but has rarely hired someone with previous NBA head coaching experience. He adds that the Bulls have the talent to compete for a playoff spot in the East and Donovan could turn them into a desirable market for free agents.

Donovan said he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding job in OKC, but Wojnarowski believes that will be less of a concern in Chicago. He said the Thunder are “cycling down” with a lot of veteran players and draft picks and may bottom out for a while before becoming good again. The Bulls have “players on the uptick” and could become contenders with the right coach.

There’s more on the NBA’s coaching carousel:

  • Wojnarowski passed along a few other rumors today (video link). The Sixers are ready to start bringing in coaching candidates and have already started conversations with Mike D’Antoni and Tyronn Lue. Chauncey Billups is a name to watch for the Pacers, who have shown a willingness to hire former players with no coaching experience and surround them with a veteran staff. The Pelicans have been doing a “ton of background” and haven’t started formal interviews yet. The Rockets like interviewing a lot of people whenever they have an opening and will consider various combinations of head coaches and lead assistants. Woj expects the interview process to be lengthy in both Houston and Oklahoma City.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told Sirius XM Radio that assistant Nate Bjorkgren has interviewed for the opening with the Pacers (Twitter link).
  • The Kings‘ front office shakeup shouldn’t affect the job security of coach Luke Walton, Sam Amick of The Athletic said on a recent HoopsHype podcast. Amick believes new head of basketball operations Monte McNair was told before he was hired that the organization is “pretty invested both financially and kind of spiritually in Luke.”
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11 thoughts on “Coaching Rumors: Donovan, Billups, Bjorkgren, Walton

  1. stevep-4

    Whew! Bulls made an sctual smart choice. And dodged the D’Antoni bullet again!

      • xxtremecubsguy89

        Donavan?! Yeah he’s sooo old. Whoever goes to Houston will regret it after they watch Russ play D.

        • Otogar

          I guess he’s talking about D’Antoni. Houston’s new coach will have a tricky job: a team with huge expectations, which is obviously lacking something to win it all but hasn’t many options (no rounds) to improve significantly for years to come.

          • Natergater77

            Unless Hou strips down. I suggest go with Cassel and trade both Russ and Harden. Made a comment on a previous post of one way to do so. Partly working with New York to get RJ Barret and free up cap space in a year.

            I think Cassel would do great with a young team that grows with him as a coach.

  2. Sillivan

    The trade is the most important for Kings, not coach

    Buddy Hield to 76ers for Horford, #21, #34, #36

    Who says no?

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Donovan is a bust. Good luck with that. I really wonder who Rockets will sign. Really don’t have a clue. Which way they go. That’s very rare for me. Still say their best bet. Is trading Westbrook now. I like DAntoni. As a coach he’s been solid. His issues have always been with GM and owners. He has always adjusted to them. Except in maybe in Phoenix. It’s why I believe he’s good for Sixers. They got talent and young vets. He can show them how to win. And therefore put a team together he likes. Team would have to conform to him. Not other way around. Works for both IMO. Sixers have to get vet coach who can deal with stars personalities. DAntoni has done this, plenty. He can get them to compete for East. They’re not that far away. Plus they have solid picks in this draft.

    • Sillivan

      D’Antoni is a career playoffs huge underachiever win and loss record 54-56

      5 years with Suns
      Nash, Amare, Marion, Joe Johnson
      4 years with Rockets

      He is supposed to win 2 rings with Suns
      And 1 ring with Rockets
      Owners expected him to beat injury Spurs and injury Warriors.
      career
      Winning %
      regular season at 56%
      Playoffs at 49%

    • Natergater77

      Donovan a bust? He kept OKC competing after KD left and then nearly got out of a 1st round no one predicted him to be in after the team traded Russ. Donovan gets the most out of his talent.

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