Chris Fleming

Bulls Name Coaching Staff Under Billy Donovan

The Bulls have added assistant coaches Maurice Cheeks, Josh Longstaff, John Bryant, Damian Cotter and Billy Schmidt to serve under recently hired head coach Billy Donovan, the team announced Saturday.

Chicago has also brought on Henry Domercant, Ronnie Burrell, Ty Abbott and Max Rothschild as player development coordinators.

Cheeks is the biggest name of the bunch to join the Bulls’ staff. The former 15-year NBA veteran most recently served under Donovan for five seasons with the Thunder in his second stint with the organization. A native of Chicago, Cheeks not only gets to reunite with Donovan after working closely for half of the past decade but he gets to return home.

In addition to a stellar playing career, the four-time All-Star brings a wealth of coaching experience as he was the head coach for the Blazers (2001-05), Sixers (2005-08) and Pistons (2013-14). In addition to his first Thunder tenure, Cheeks has also been an assistant coach with the Sixers.

Longstaff, 38, joins the Bulls after spending the previous two campaigns under Mike Budenholzer with the Bucks. The Maine native brings a strong coaching resume in his own right, which includes assistant coaching stops with the Thunder and Knicks. Longstaff also has G League head coaching experience with the Erie Bayhawks from 2017-18.

As for Bryant, Cotter and Schmidt, they bring varying degrees of experience of coaching within basketball. Bryant joins the Bulls after spending four years with the Sixers, two of those in an assistant coach capacity. Cotter has been an assistant coach in the G League with several organizations and Schmidt has most notably served as Thunder as a director of quality control the past five seasons.

Chris Fleming is the lone holdover from last year’s staff who remains with the club in an assistant coaching capacity.

Bulls’ Donovan Overhauling Coaching Staff

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has informed multiple assistant coaches still under contract with the team that they won’t be part of his staff for the 2020/21 season, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, and Nate Loenser won’t be returning to to the club after working on Jim Boylen‘s staff last season, Johnson reports. Karen Stack Umlauf has also been let go, per an official announcement from the Bulls.

“I appreciate the time that I was able to spend with Dean, Nate, Roy and Karen. I really want to thank all of them for their service and commitment to the Chicago Bulls,” Donovan said in a statement. “This is the tough side to our business, and I wish all of them the best moving forward.”

Rogers had only completed one season on his three-year deal and Loenser had his team option for 2020/21 exercised in the spring, but Bulls ownership continues to give the team’s new decision-makers the green light to make changes even if they’ll cost the organization some money, per Johnson.

It’s possible the Bulls will make additional changes to their coaching staff, but for now it sounds as if Chris Fleming is sticking around. Fleming worked with new Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas in Denver during the 2015/16 season, and Johnson has previously reported that there’s a “trust factor” between the two men.

It remains to be seen who will join Donovan’s revamped staff in Chicago, but Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times speculates that Maurice Cheeks could be a candidate. Cheeks is a Chicago native and has been an assistant under Donovan for the last five years in Oklahoma City.

Bulls Begin Interviewing Head Coaching Candidates

The Bulls‘ search for a new head coach is underway, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the team has received permission to speak to a number of candidates and has begun conducting interviews.

Several candidates identified by Wojnarowski have been previously reported as potential targets for Chicago. That group includes former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas, and Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool.

In addition to those candidates, Wojnarowski reports that the Bulls have also been granted permission to talk to Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley and Heat assistant Dan Craig.

Finally, current Bulls assistants Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers – holdovers from Jim Boylen‘s staff who remain under contract – may receive consideration for the top job, according to Wojnarowski. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago indicates that Fleming could have a role on the new staff if he isn’t promoted, since he has previously worked with Bulls executive VP Arturas Karnisovas in Denver and there’s a “trust factor” between the two men.

Following Boylen’s dismissal, Karnisovas suggested that Chicago is seeking a head coach who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator.” The Bulls, who appear to be conducting a wide-ranging search, could be competing with the Pacers, Sixers, Nets, and Pelicans for certain candidates, since all of those clubs are also in the market for new head coaches.

While Karnisovas has said there’s no set timeline for finalizing a new hire, it will be interesting to see whether Chicago tries to have a new head coach in place for its organized offseason team activities, which are scheduled to take place from September 14 to October 6.

Bulls Notes: Boylen, Silas, Vanterpool, Assistants

More than five months after he last coached a game for the Bulls, Jim Boylen was relieved of his duties on Friday morning, with the team announcing it will launch a formal search to identify and hire a new permanent head coach.

A source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter links) that Boylen displayed some behavior that was considered “detrimental to the organization” during his tenure with the team, including a verbal run-in with a team chef.

While Cowley’s report suggests those incidents may have played a part in the Bulls’ decision to move on from its head coach, head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a conference call today that “it was strictly a basketball decision” to fire Boylen, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) adds another name to the list of potential candidates for the Bulls’ head coaching job, reporting that Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas is expected to receive consideration. Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool is also a name to watch, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). We’re keeping tabs on all the rumored candidates right here.
  • According to Karnisovas, the Bulls will be seeking a head coach who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator,” tweets Eric Woodyard of ESPN. The Bulls exec added that there’s no set timeline to finalize a hire.
  • The Bulls’ assistant coaches are expected to remain in place for now and can continue working with individual players at the team facility, notes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As Woj points out, top assistants Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers are under contract beyond this season.

Atlantic Notes: T. Johnson, Beasley, Knicks, Raptors

The Nets, already missing seven players from their 15-man roster this summer, are also currently without guard Tyler Johnson, who was signed by the club during the transaction window at the end of June.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said today that Johnson hasn’t accompanied the team to the Walt Disney World campus for personal reasons, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link). However, Marks added that Johnson will join the club in a few days.

When Johnson reports to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, he’ll have to go through a six-day quarantine period, testing negative multiple times for the coronavirus before he’ll be permitted to practice, Lewis adds in a separate tweet. That longer quarantine period applies to any player who arrives after his team has already traveled to Disney and gone through its own initial 36-hour quarantine period.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • New Nets forward Michael Beasley, who will also have to quarantine for six days, is already in the team’s Florida hotel, tweets Lewis. Marks confirmed today that Beasley will have to sit out Brooklyn’s first five games due to his drug suspension from 2019, which he has yet to serve (Twitter link via Lewis). The forward will be eligible to make his Nets debut on August 9 vs. the Clippers, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).
  • The Knickspreviously-reported head coaching interviews with Tom Thibodeau and Bulls assistant Chris Fleming took place on Thursday, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Thibodeau and Fleming are two of 11 candidates for the position, as our tracker shows.
  • Raptors rookie Dewan Hernandez, who had been sidelined since December due to a severe ankle sprain, is with the team in Orlando and will be healthy enough to play this summer, tweets Austin Kent of SLAM. Hernandez is unlikely to play meaningful minutes, but will provide added frontcourt depth.

Knicks Plan To Interview Udoka, Others For Head Coach Job

4:58pm: The Knicks are also expected to interview Bulls assistant Chris Fleming, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who hears that the club will likely meet with about eight-to-10 candidates in total. Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter link) hears that Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is among those who could interview with the Knicks too, though that’s not yet confirmed.

3:54pm: In addition to meeting with Udoka, the Knicks also plan to interview Magic assistant Pat Delany, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). A former G League head coach for Miami’s affiliate, Delany has spent six years as an assistant coach under Steve Clifford, first in Charlotte and now in Orlando.

3:39pm: The Knicks intend to interview Sixers assistant Ime Udoka for their head coaching vacancy, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Udoka joins a list of candidates that includes Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, Mike Woodson, and Mike Miller. Atkinson reportedly has some support within the Knicks’ organization, though Thibodeau is considered the frontrunner. Woodson and Miller are also expected to interview — if they haven’t already.

Udoka, 42, enjoyed a seven-year playing career that ended in 2011 after suiting up for the Spurs, Trail Blazers, Kings, Knicks and Lakers. He was part of Gregg Popovich‘s staff in San Antonio for seven seasons before joining the 76ers last spring. Udoka also interviewed for the Cavaliers’ head coaching job last year before the team hired John Beilen.

Interestingly, Udoka was recently reported to be a leading candidate for the Bulls’ head coaching job in the event that they move on from Jim Boylen. It’s not clear whether New York’s apparent interest in Udoka will prompt Chicago to accelerate its evaluation process with Boylen at all.

Bulls Notes: Karnisovas, GM Search, Boylen, Battier

Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls‘ new executive VP of basketball operations, promised “an extensive and diverse” search for a general manager during an interview with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Karnisovas was officially hired Monday, but is working out of Denver because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. He has already added J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly in the first steps toward assembling a new front office.

“I’ve been in this profession a long time,” Karnisovas said. “Most of the guys on the list I know personally and I’ve known them for a long time, from scouting games and going to dinners and interaction. It’s going to be easier for me. I know exactly the criteria I’m looking for. It’s going to be complementary to me and my skill set. I don’t want clones. I want somebody who is going to bring something different to our organization. Those are things I pay attention to.”

Also in the interview, Karnisovas talked about his preference for an up-tempo offense with plenty of ball movement and the need for player development, citing the progress the Nuggets were able to make with a young team.

“Players want to play and players want to win,” he said. “I’m going to try to facilitate that. I’m going to try to improve every year. Constant improvement is what we’ve done in Denver. I’d like to incorporate that here.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Karnisovas should be willing to trade any player on the roster, even leading scorer Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen, contends Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago. He cites the Sixers, Nets and Spurs as teams that might look to shake up their rosters in the offseason.
  • The uncertainty of the NBA calendar may help coach Jim Boylen keep his job, Johnson writes in a mailbag column. If the league is able to squeeze in a few regular season games before the playoffs, Johnson believes it makes sense to keep Boylen around for those. Karnisovas said he will get to know Boylen, who has two years left on his contract, before making a final decision. Johnson notes that Karnisovas has a prior relationship with assistant coach Chris Fleming, whom he helped to hire in Denver.
  • Chicago hasn’t sought permission to interview Shane Battier, the Heat’s VP of basketball development and analytics, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. A report earlier this week indicated the Bulls weren’t planning to pursue Battier because they don’t believe Miami would let him go.

Eastern Notes: Lawson, Bulls, Collison, Sirvydis, Magic

The Celtics announced three additions to their coaching staff today, including the official hiring of Kara Lawson as their first-ever female assistant. A 13-year WNBA veteran and Olympic gold medal winner, she spent the past two seasons as the primary television analyst for the Wizards and covered games for ESPN Radio.

“This was a good fit,” Lawson said to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be challenged, I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be allowed to coach, and I wanted to go to an organization that was going to be playing in big games to be able to get a sense of that last frontier of coaching, which is being able to do it in pressure situations in the regular season and the playoffs.”

Also added to coach Brad Stevens’ staff were Brandon Bailey, who served as coach of the Celtics’ G League affiliate in Maine the past two seasons, and Joe Mazzulla, a former assistant with the Red Claws.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • It got lost in the shuffle of this week’s free agency frenzy, but according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), there was a belief in league circles that the Bulls were the frontrunners to sign Darren Collison before the free agent point guard unexpectedly announced his retirement.
  • The Bulls have added two new assistants to head coach Jim Boylen’s staff, according to a press release from the team. Chris Fleming announced in May that he was leaving the Nets to come to Chicago, and Roy Rogers, who recently parted ways with the Rockets, officially joined the team Wednesday. In addition, Karen Stack has been elevated to assistant coach, Paul Miller was named assistant to the head coach and former intern Chris Kent is the new video coordinator.
  • Deividas Sirvydis, who was selected by the Pistons with the 37th pick in the draft, will likely spend the upcoming season in Europe, tweets international basketball writer Donatas Urbonas. Rytas Vilnius GM Rolandas Jarutis expects to have the 6’8″ shooting guard back next season unless he has an outstanding performance with Detroit’s Summer League team. Sirvydis, 19, was MVP of the EuroLeague Basketball Next Generation Tournament in 2018.
  • The Magic have probably given up on Fran Vazquez ever coming to the NBA, but there was news this week on their 2005 draft pick, whose draft rights they still retain, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. The 36-year-old re-signed with his Zaragoza team in Spain, so his cap hold will be removed from Orlando’s books for another season.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Nets Face Management Makeover

Trajan Langdon’s decision to become the new GM in New Orleans represents the third major off-court loss for Brooklyn since the season ended, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Langdon, the Nets’ former assistant GM and the reigning G League Executive of the Year, has been a popular candidate to move up the management ranks. He recently interviewed for jobs with the Timberwolves and Wizards, as well as the Pelicans.

The time Langdon spent as a player in Europe only adds to his value, Lewis notes. He has wide-ranging contacts throughout the continent and speaks five languages. He also has a scouting background with the Spurs and was responsible for assembling the Nets’ draft board.

Lewis sees Gianluca Pascucci, who serves as the Nets’ director of global scouting, as the leading choice to step into Langdon’s role. However, he is also reportedly a candidate to become GM at Olimpia Milano in the EuroLeague.

Brooklyn’s other offseason losses were  G League coach Will Weaver, who left for a job with Sydney in the Australian League after leading Long Island to the championship game, and Chris Fleming, who left the Nets’ coaching staff to become the lead assistant to Jim Boylen in Chicago.

Lewis mentions ex-Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek as a possibility to replace Fleming. Hornacek joined the Nets for training camp, practices and some road trips and may be interested in taking an official position with the team.

Chris Fleming Leaving Nets For Bulls

Nets assistant coach Chris Fleming will join the Bulls as the top assistant to Jim Boylen, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

A former coach of the German national team, Fleming joined Brooklyn’s staff in 2016 when Kenny Atkinson took over the team. Fleming also served as an assistant with the Nuggets during the 2015/16 season.

Boylen is reshaping his staff after signing a contract extension last week. Terms weren’t announced, but it is believed to be a multi-year deal.