John Bryant

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.

Central Notes: Manning, Bucks, Bryant, Buckner

Danny Manning may join the bench of new Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren, sources have informed Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Manning, a former two-time All-Star power forward, most recently served as the head coach for the Wake Forest men’s team from 2014-2020. Bjorkgren, meanwhile, graduated from his role as an assistant on Nick Nurse‘s title-winning Raptors staff to his first head coaching position earlier this offseason.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Central Division:

  • Bucks vice president Alex Lasry, son of co-owner Marc Lasry, spoke with David Aldridge of The Athletic about why the top-seeded squad fell apart early in the 2020 NBA playoffs. “The series against the Heat, very easily, could have been, we could have been up 3-1,” Lasry said. “We just didn’t execute the way we normally do, and had all season. And you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Heat.” The Bucks lost in five games to Miami during the second round of the playoffs.
  • John Bryant, most recently a Sixers assistant coach under Brett Brown, has joined the Bulls as an assistant under Chicago’s new head coach Billy Donovan, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Bryant served under Brown from 2016-2020. Bryant was previously an assistant coach for the team’s G League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, from 2014-2016.
  • The Pistons have added former Pacers scout Jason Buckner as their director of scouting, per J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star. The Detroit front office has been drastically reorganized since Troy Weaver was hired as the team’s general manager earlier during the offseason.

Central Notes: LaVine, Pacers, Cavaliers, Calderon

Fresh off the Bulls officially matching the Kings’ fully guaranteed, four-year $78MM offer sheet to Zach LaVine, the 23-year-old combo guard says he is ready to prove all of the doubters wrong who wonder whether he is worth the nearly $80MM in guaranteed money that he will earn from the Bulls, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I’m my hardest critic,” LaVine said Sunday during the Bulls’ summer league game against the Lakers in Las Vegas. “There’s nothing that any of you guys can say to me that I [don’t] take harder upon myself. I go back and critique my game every year. I’m used to people sleeping on me, and I’m also used to waking them up as well. I’m happy that I have this contract, and I’m happy that I have a little extra motivation to go out there and prove it to some people that don’t believe in me.”

“At the end of the day, I believe in myself, I believe in my work, and I’m going to show the city of Chicago it’s a good choice and I’m here to stay. I’m going to be their guy, and I’m ready to do whatever to help this team get back to that spot.”

And despite saying publicly that he was disappointed the Bulls hadn’t done more to lock him in as a restricted free agent when the free-agency period opened, LaVine backtracked from those comments after the deal with the Bulls became official, saying that he simply meant he never wanted to sign an offer sheet because he wanted to stay in Chicago so badly.

“I think a lot of that got taken out of context,” LaVine said. “The main thing that I wanted to get my point across was I wanted to just deal with Chicago. I never wanted to get [to] a point of [having to sign] an offer sheet. Regardless of whatever happened, I’m going to put that behind us. I’m happy as hell that I’m going to be able to play for the team that I want to play for.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers found unexpected success this past season and the front office deserves credit for avoiding complacency, Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com opines. Indiana brought in Kyle O’Quinn, Tyreke Evans, and Doug McDermott on mid-sized deals, all moves designed to help them compete in a now-weakened Eastern Conference.
  • The Cavaliers, who are still searching for another assistant coach on head coach Tyronn Lue‘s bench, interviewed Warriors assistant coach Willie Green and Sixers assistant coach John Bryant recently, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Green has since re-upped with Golden State.
  • Because he signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, Jose Calderon likely could have chosen to play wherever he wanted to this upcoming season, opines Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. But he ended up picking the Pistons simply because he believes they can be a good team. And although he’ll likely slot in behind Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith on the depth chart, it’s possible new coach Dwane Casey could play two point guards at the same time, thereby opening up playing time for Calderon.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Moultrie, Raptors, Sixers

The Knicks aren’t going to land a marquee free agent like Kevin Durant this offseason, but there are plenty of more realistic targets that the team could pursue in July. Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders singles out a few of those potential free agent targets for the Knicks, writing that Brandon Jennings, Eric Gordon, Evan Fournier, Courtney Lee, Ty Lawson, and a handful of others would make sense for the club.

Speaking of attainable free agent targets, the Knicks are taking a look at a few available veterans this week at a mini-camp, with former first-round picks Anthony Bennett, Royce White, and Arnett Moultrie among the participants, per Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Moultrie, a 2012 first-rounder, has hired Travis King of Relativity Sports for representation, according to HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic:

  • In a conversation with TSN’s Josh Lewenberg (video link), Raptors head coach Dwane Casey talks about his new contract and about Toronto’s offseason, suggesting that the team will target shooting and defensive toughness this summer.
  • The 76ers filled some vacancies on their coaching staff by promoting Kevin Young and John Bryant, a pair of coaches from their D-League affiliate, sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Meanwhile, Sixers shooting coach Gene Burroughs will become the head coach of the Delaware 87ers, Philadelphia’s D-League team, while former Sixers assistant Will Weaver is a candidate to join the Nets‘ coaching staff.
  • Bryan Colangelo and Brett Brown of the Sixers are currently overseas, visiting 2014 first-round pick Dario Saric and scouting international players, tweets Pompey.