Dean Cooper

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 Notes: Hoiberg, Boylen, Markkanen, Parker

The Bulls‘ decision to fire Fred Hoiberg wasn’t based on his win-loss record as the team’s head coach, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson said today to reporters, including K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Instead, Paxson explained, it was more about Hoiberg’s struggles to get his identity across to his team (Twitter link via Johnson).

“We were in a similar situation last year at this time. Poor record,” Paxson said (Twitter link via Johnson). “But the entire energy about this group was different then. What we’re lacking is an energy and spirit. It’s not as simple as saying we would’ve got that with healthy players.”

Associate head coach Jim Boylen will take over for Hoiberg, and he won’t just get the interim title. Paxson said today that the organization believes Boylen will be able to “affect change,” adding that the longtime assistant will be given the opportunity to remain in the role next season and possibly beyond (Twitter links via Johnson). For his part, Boylen told reporters that he believes he’s “a more passionate in-game coach” than Hoiberg (Twitter link via Johnson).

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The eventual firing of Hoiberg was inevitable after his relationship with Jimmy Butler deteriorated, in the view of Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Meanwhile, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News and ESPN’s Zach Lowe both make the case that the Bulls’ management group didn’t put Hoiberg in a position to succeed.
  • Lowe also observes that Hoiberg is not a “forceful personality,” which may have contributed to his inability to succeed in Chicago: “I have come to believe after talking to lots of sources over lots of years now,” Lowe writes, “that (Hoiberg’s) tepid nature played some role in his inability to imprint any foundational belief upon any of his four Chicago teams.”
  • In a separate article for The Sporting News, Deveney identifies eight potential candidates to become the Bulls’ next long-term head coach, starting with Boylen.
  • Boylen’s first move as the Bulls’ head coach will be to insert Lauri Markkanen into the starting lineup, shifting Jabari Parker back to the bench, per The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link).
  • The rest of the Bulls’ assistants will be retained, and the team will also add G League coach Dean Cooper to its coaching staff, according to Boylen (Twitter link via Johnson).
  • As we detailed in an earlier story, Paxson said today that GM Gar Forman is “absolutely safe” in his current role.

And-Ones: Morris, D-League, Kings

The NBA released its schedule for 2014/15, and it’ll feature an All-Star break that will extend longer than a week. Every team will get at least eight days off, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). That will mean a few more sets of back-to-back games throughout the season, but it’ll be interesting to see the effect on the pre-deadline trade market, since the All-Star break usually falls about a week before the trade deadline. More idle time and a lower risk of injuries that could scuttle a trade might lead to more activity. While we digest the schedule and all of its ramifications, here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Darius Morris rejected an offer that would have given him a net $450K from a Serbian team, tweets David Pick of, who speculates that NBA interest was behind Morris’ decision.
  • There is no timetable on a decision to install a new D-League president, the league office tells Gino Pilato of
  • Pilato has heard of some candidates for the job, however, naming Tommy Smith, Shawn Smith, Chris Alpert, and Jerry Murphy, all of whom currently work for the D-League
  • The Jazz announced (via Twitter) that Dean Cooper, whom the Rockets let go from their assistant coaching staff after this past season, has been named head coach of Utah’s D-League affiliate.
  • Demolition has begun for the Kings new arena, reports Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee. The project is moving forward with the expectation that some remaining legal challenges to the arena’s construction will fail.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Kerr, Trail Blazers, Rockets

The Warriors are growing increasingly pessimistic about their chances of convincing Steve Kerr to turn down the Knicks in favor of Golden State’s coaching job, report Ian Begley and Marc Stein of The Warriors fear Kerr is “too deep” into talks with the Knicks at this point, according to the article. Begley and Stein also note that their sources also stressed that Stan Van Gundy is actually the closest thing to a top target at this early stage of Golden State’s search. This feeling is based on the premise that an experienced coach can ensure that the Warriors maintain upward momentum in the competitive Western Conference, per the article.

More from out west:

  • The Trail Blazers should have utilized the NBA D-League to better develop their young players, writes Chris Reichert of SB Nation. Instead of getting players like C.J. McCollum, Meyers Leonard, Victor Claver, and Will Barton some experience and playing time, the team let them sit on the end of the bench, notes Reichert, who believes this is hurting the team’s playoff chances.
  • The Rockets have fired assistant coach Dean Cooper, citing problems with the team’s defense, reports Fran Blineberry of (Twitter link). The Rockets ranked 23rd in the league this season in points allowed, giving up an average of 103.1 per contest.
  • The writers at The Commercial Appeal (subscription required) look at the Grizzlies core and the offseason ahead from a GM’s perspective.

Odds & Ends: Austin Rivers, Cooper, Stoudemire

John Reid of the Times-Picayune writes that Austin Rivers is on schedule to be fully healed in time for Hornets' training camp in October after undergoing surgery on his right ankle three weeks ago. The rookie joins a list of teammates, namely Xavier Henry and Robin Lopez, who are recovering from recent surgeries. Regardless, head coach Monty Williams looks to have all three ready by the time the regular season starts. With that aside, here are more noteworthy tidbits from around the Association: 

  • C.J. Miles elaborated more on the opportunity he has to expand his game with the Cavaliers, especially for a coach like Byron Scott, who believes that Miles has a lot of untapped potential (Jason Lloyd of reports). 
  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune tweets that former Timberwolves and Trail Blazers assistant Dean Cooper is headed to the Rockets to join Kevin McHale's coaching staff. 
  • Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link) mentions that Cavaliers GM Chris Grant is encouraged about Kelenna Azubuike, who looks like he's moving well and could be a contributor this season.
  • Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that he'll return to the court "stronger than ever" this upcoming season. 
  • 76ers GM Rod Thorn acknowledges heightened expectations and says that Philadelphia fans appear to be especially excited because of the acquisition of Andrew Bynum, according to Dei Lynam of CSN Philly
  • Jenni Carlson of NewsOK thinks that James Harden is better suited to thrive in a small market city with the Thunder rather than be potentially distracted in what she terms "hot spots."