Billy Donovan

Central Notes: Wiseman, Green, Donovan, Haliburton, Turner

Pistons center James Wiseman is going to make it a priority this offseason to improve his strength with a weightlifting regimen, per head coach Dwane Casey (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press).

First selected with the No. 2 pick out of Memphis in 2020, Wiseman failed to find his footing with the Warriors and was flipped to Detroit at the trade deadline in a four-team transaction. Since being sent to the rebuilding Pistons, the seven-footer has enjoyed a much more active role, averaging 13.4 PPG on 55.2% shooting, along with 8.7 RPG and 0.8 BPG across 26.0 MPG.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bucks two-way rookie guard A.J. Green has an interesting history with Milwaukee as a city, as Lori Nickel of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. His father, Kyle Green, served as an assistant coach at Marquette during the 2003/04 NCAA season. Kyle Green left his post to become a head coach at Lewis University in Chicago. The Iowa Barnstormers, A.J. Green’s AAU team, meanwhile, played at a tournament in Milwaukee while he was in high school. “I had an idea of what the city was like,” A.J. said. “Obviously, good basketball, good players, and good people. I knew that Milwaukee liked me, but it was not a sure thing. I’m so glad it was here.”
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has faced some criticism for an underwhelming season, but he’s earning praise from several of his best players, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s definitely underrated, underappreciated on the outside,’’ All-Star DeMar DeRozan said. ‘‘He’s easy-going, and as much as he’s locked into the game and pays attention to the small things, it’s incredible. His play-calling, his schemes — he puts a lot into the game that too many people don’t see.’’ At 36-40, the Bulls are currently the tenth seed in the East and are on the cusp of a play-in tournament berth.
  • Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton and sharpshooting center Myles Turner could be shut down for the rest of the season, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “They’ll be listed however they’re listed game-to-game,” head coach Rick Carlisle said following a team practice today. “If you’re asking if it’s possible that they don’t play anymore, yeah, it’s possible. It’s not impossible that one of them would play, but we’re going game to game with it.” Turner has missed the team’s last three games with a sore left ankle and sore lower back, while Haliburton has been absent for the last two due to a right ankle sprain and sore left elbow. Indiana is currently 3.5 games behind the Bulls for the No. 10 seed in the East.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Green, White, Beverley

Bulls All-Star small forward DeMar DeRozan is making his return to the lineup on Sunday after sitting out Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers with a right quad injury, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I feel good,” DeRozan said. “Everything’s a go. Regular-scheduled programming. It was just really sore after those three marathons that I ran. But I’m good, got a lot of treatment these last couple days—ice, recovery.”

DeRozan missed five games earlier this season with the same injury, which he reaggravated in a Wednesday loss to the Sixers, opting to leave early.

“I’ve been feeling it since January,” DeRozan added. “I just find ways to get through most of the games. Just that game was the worst as far as soreness. It takes a lot for me to sit out a game. I just wanted to take care of it these last couple days and get rid of the soreness.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • After appearing in two games with the Bulls this week following a two-month absence, Javonte Green appears to have suffered a setback in his recovery from knee surgery. Green has now sat for two straight games, and head coach Billy Donovan stated that the forward is struggling with “soreness and discomfort” the day after playing, Johnson tweets. Donovan has not indicated that the team intends to shut Green down for the rest of the year. After today, Chicago will have just eight games left in the regular season.
  • Donovan is convinced that young Bulls reserve combo guard Coby White, already a good shooter, has taken his defensive game to the next level this season, Johnson writes in a separate piece. “He’s playmaking,” Donovan said. “He’s passing. He’s driving. He’s making good decisions. He’s defending. He’s playing two ways.” White will be a restricted free agent this summer, and is making a case for Chicago to retain him with his improved play.
  • The next three games for the Bulls and starting point guard Patrick Beverley will be against two of Beverley’s former teams, the Lakers (twice) and Clippers. Beverley is hoping to knock the Lakers down the standings from their current No. 8 seed in the West, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “They’ve gotten better after the trade,” Beverley said of the Lakers. “The Bulls after the All-Star break, we’ve gotten better, and that’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, we’re playing basketball. We’re not out there a UFC fighter or a boxing match. We’re able to compete at the highest level, and to do it on a stage in L.A. is always fun.’’

Bulls Notes: Beverley, Dosunmu, Leadership, Caruso

New Bulls starting point guard Patrick Beverley has come close to suiting up for his hometown team even before this season, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. When Beverley was looking to make his NBA debut in 2012 following international pro stints in Greece and Russia, he participated in a mini-camp for Chicago’s summer league team at the time.

In a recent presser, the 34-year-old vet discussed his excitement at the chance to play for the Bulls.

“Obviously, an honor,” Beverley said. “The way I play, I run through a wall for any team. This is even more… It’s the city where I’m from, so I don’t know what might happen. I might pull some [expletive] out I ain’t never did before. I’m super stoked and can’t wait to get started. This is good energy, fresh energy.”

In his first game for the Bulls last night, Beverley helped the team snap a six-game losing streak with his signature tough defense, solid court awareness and dogged leadership.

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Second-year Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu was shifted to a bench role upon Beverley’s arrival. After a Friday shootaround, he explained that he was excited to learn from his fellow native Chicagoan, rather than being worried about losing minutes to him, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He’s a [three]-time All-Defensive team [honoree],” Dosunmu said. “That’s one category where I want to get to… So him being here and being able to give me advice of how to manipulate things on the defensive end and make guys uncomfortable, he’s doing that at 6 feet, 6’1″. If I can continue to learn and get better, then I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to be the same way.”
  • Chicago head coach Billy Donovan had high praise for Beverley’s leadership and defensive effort following the Bulls’ 131-87 shellacking of the Nets on Friday, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s very inspiring and uplifting, and very positive, but the one thing I respect about him is he comes into everything with great energy,” Donovan said. “And then his voice has been really positive in terms of trying to uplift guys, give guys confidence and belief, that type of stuff. There’s no question you can feel his presence.” In a separate piece, Cowley wonders if Beverley has already become the team’s de facto leader after just one game.
  • Beverley instantly shores up the perimeter defense of a team that desperately needs it. The Bulls’ best defender, Alex Caruso, believes playing alongside another solid wing defender will help boost the team similar to the way it did last year, when he and injured point guard Lonzo Ball were locking down opposing offenses, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He has a really high defensive IQ,” Caruso raved. “I think having me and him out there together being able to orchestrate where guys need to go, calling out plays, impact the ball can help. Lonzo and I had great synergy last year as far as being to play off each other and wreaking havoc for the other guys.”

Central Notes: Donovan, LaVine, Ivey, LeVert

Last-Two Minute Reports have shown that the Bulls were on the wrong end of some critical calls during their past two games, but that’s little consolation for coach Billy Donovan, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

“It doesn’t do anything,” Donovan said after Monday’s overtime loss at Cleveland. “It’s like, ‘We’re sorry.’” 

The NBA determined that officials in that game missed a lane violation on Donovan Mitchell when he sank a game-tying shot with three seconds left in regulation after rebounding his intentionally missed free throw. The league’s report also said a travel by Cleveland center Jarrett Allen was missed before he scored with 8.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The NBA acknowledged that two nights earlier, DeMar DeRozan was fouled by Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert on a potential game-winning shot as time expired. The Bulls also were the victim of a missed call at the end of their second game of the season. Three extra wins would have Chicago on the verge of a top-six spot in the East instead of its current position outside the play-in tournament, but Donovan said the team can’t dwell on officiating mistakes.

“We’ve got to overcome things. I’m just a big believer of that,” he said. “I think a lot of times you can look around and look at what everybody else is doing wrong instead of looking at yourself and what we can do better ourselves and what we have control over.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine said this week that he doesn’t mind seeing the team’s last-second shots going to DeMar DeRozan, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago doubts whether LaVine was being honest with that statement. Sources tell Johnson that LaVine has “questioned his role internally” as a complementary player to DeRozan.
  • Pistons guard Jaden Ivey is making an impression on rival coaches during the first half of his rookie season, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Although the No. 5 pick needs to improve his shooting numbers, his athletic gifts suggest that he has a bright NBA future. “You watch him the open floor and he’s dangerous,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He’ll continue to develop his shot. He’ll get better as time progresses. That’s just how those guys are.”
  • LeVert is considered the Cavaliers‘ top trade asset heading into next month’s deadline, Chris Fedor of said on his latest podcast. Fedor explains that LeVert has an expiring contract and his $18.8MM salary is in the range of players that Cleveland might want to acquire.

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, Caruso, Donovan

Second-year Bulls reserve combo guard Ayo Dosunmu made his first NBA buzzer-beater in a 110-108 victory over the Hawks Wednesday, but continues to be a work in progress, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Cowley notes that Dosunmu has had something of a rocky trajectory with the 13-18 Bulls thus far this season. He initially was pressed into service as Chicago’s starter at the point due to the lingering recovery of Lonzo Ball from knee surgery, was then replaced by Alex Caruso in the starting lineup, and more recently has been losing rotation minutes as a backup to 36-year-old vet Goran Dragic.

“It’s all about your approach, your mental approach,’’ Dosunmu said. “You’ve got to be mentally strong in this league, definitely. I pride myself on being a great teammate, being there for my teammates. [In Miami] I didn’t play the minutes I ideally want to play, just me being a competitor, you know, but I can’t take that out on my teammates… I knew that whenever my time did come I would be ready for it. I always say brick-by-brick, and sometimes you can’t always keep stacking ‘em. Sometimes you gotta take bricks away. That’s part of the journey.’’

“He has always been able to hang onto his competitiveness and competitiveness has always gotten him through,’’ head coach Billy Donovan said of Dosunmu. “But I think the further you go up the ladder from high school, to college and now to the NBA, that is a huge component that you have to have, but there’s also the detailed part, too. In terms of understanding who he is really guarding, trends, what the opponent likes to do, how he’s being guarded, what they’re doing to him.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Caruso has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol after he collided with Atlanta forward De’Andre Hunter while scrambling for a loose ball in the second quarter of the Hawks game on Wednesday, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Schaefer notes that the Bulls also diagnosed the 6’4″ guard with a sprained right shoulder. The next opportunity for Caruso to suit up will arrive Friday against the Knicks, who have gone 8-2 across their last ten games, including two wins against the Bulls last week.
  • Donovan believes the Bulls’ reportedly heated locker room exchange, during halftime of an eventual 150-126 loss to the Timberwolves, could ultimately be a positive for the team’s season going forward, Cowley writes in a separate piece. “I think you hope so,’’ Donovan said of the conversation. “I’m a big believer in confrontation. Communication, them trying to relay what they need from each other is a good thing.’’ After that Minnesota defeat on Sunday, the Bulls have now won two straight games against playoff hopefuls.
  • In case you missed it, the Bulls are being eyed carefully by several front offices across the league as potential sellers by the trade deadline, should their season continue to crater.

Bulls Rumors: LaVine, DeRozan, Donovan, More

The Bulls have lost four straight games and are just 6-14 since opening the season with a 5-4 record. Amid the prolonged slump, concerns have arisen within the locker room about whether stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan “can click together at a high level on the court this season and beyond,” according to Shams Charania and Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Charania and Mayberry report that the Bulls have held multiple team meetings to attempt to work through their issues, including one-on-one sessions between LaVine and DeRozan. However, those efforts haven’t led to on-court results — according to The Athletic’s duo, an “on-court, stylistic tension” has festered throughout the season.

Asked about the situation in Chicago, LaVine said that the team’s win-loss record has magnified any issues the team may be experiencing.

“I think everybody goes through ups and downs, just like every team does,” LaVine told The Athletic on Tuesday. “Obviously if we’re not winning games, not everybody’s going to be happy. It’s not going to look as good as it was before. It’s all glitter and show when you’re winning games. But when you’re losing games and you’re trying to do the same things, it’s turmoil. Everybody has their right to their own opinion. For me, I keep my head down. I work on my game and try to help my team. I help try to lead the team. That’s where I stand. I just try to take it day by day and evaluate how we’re doing.”

Citing multiple league sources and people close to the situation, Charania and Mayberry also report that LaVine and the Bulls haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye this season. Specifically, they say there has been “a palpable feeling across various parts of the franchise of a disconnect over LaVine’s situation in Chicago.”

The Athletic’s report is lacking in specific details and the wording is somewhat vague, so it’s difficult to tell exactly what the issues in Chicago are or how seriously we should take them. At the very least, it sounds like the team’s slump is creating frustration and tension that might not exist if the Bulls had won a few games. Whether the club will be able to work through those problems and rebound without major personnel changes remains to be seen.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • There has been “increased skepticism” within the Bulls’ locker room about head coach Billy Donovan and his staff, per The Athletic’s duo. However, Donovan signed a preseason extension and his job is safe, according to Charania and Mayberry, who say the veteran coach is focused on optimizing LaVine and DeRozan through “a balance of execution, accountability and cooperation.”
  • LaVine dismissed the idea that he has been negatively impacted by the increased expectations that came along with his new five-year, $215MM+ contract. “It hasn’t weighed (on) anything for me. I don’t understand how that gets put into context,” he said. “Just because you sign a deal, it’s supposed to be added weight to it? I think there’s added weight each time you step on the court if you don’t perform or you don’t play the right way. But everybody’s open to their own opinion.”
  • After Sunday’s 150-126 loss to Minnesota, veteran guard Goran Dragic said the Bulls’ problem is that they’re “not playing for each other.” Donovan also suggested that the team is playing too individualistically: “We’ve got to get out of the mindset of worrying about scoring and how’s it going offensively and realize the ball scores. And if the ball’s moved and passed whoever scores, scores.”
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explores whether it makes more sense to stay the course or to pivot and become a seller. As Windhorst notes, the Bulls owe their 2023 first-round pick to Orlando with top-four protection, so even bottoming out and finishing with the league’s worst record wouldn’t give them more than about a 50/50 chance to keep that pick. On the other hand, with so few sellers on the trade market, Chicago could potentially get a good return by trading certain veterans.

Bulls Notes: Williams, Future, Big Three, Caruso

Bulls power forward Patrick Williams has been re-enlisted as a starter with Javonte Green now hurt, though he’ll likely be demoted again when Green returns, writes Annie Costabile of The Chicago Sun-Times.

“We’ll probably put [Green] back in the starting lineup [when he’s healthy] to see what that looks like,” Chicago head coach Billy Donovan said. Even though Williams will be returning to the bench soon, teammates have noticed that he appears to be growing more assertive and confident of late.

“I made a joke one day, if he gets a tech in a game, I’ll pay for his tech… because he doesn’t make any expressions,” All-Star Chicago small forward DeMar DeRozan said, hoping to inspire some more on-court aggression from the 2020 No. 4 draft pick out of FSU.

There’s more out of Chicago:

  • At 10-14 on the season, the Bulls seem to be in a bit of a no man’s land when it comes to their short- and long-term futures, opines Bobby Marks of ESPN. After a successful roster overhaul in 2021 led to a fast start, major injuries to Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Zach LaVine sank the Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings. The team lost 15 of their final 22 games during the 2021/22 season. Marks notes that, with the Bulls now low on assets after offloading several picks in that eventful 2021 summer, they’re closer to the bottom of the East than the top, and may have more luck trading their best players to get worse than they would trading their limited future draft picks to get better.
  • The Bulls’ Big Three of LaVine, DeRozan, and center Nikola Vucevic all scored 25 or more points to help Chicago close out the Wizards yesterday. This collective success represents exactly what head coach Donovan hoped for when he issued a challenge to the team’s three top scorers last month to mount a simultaneous combined effort, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re definitely capable,” DeRozan said. “There will be games where other guys come up big for us and take the weight off us having to score. It will vary. As long as we stay aggressive and compete our butt off, I think we’ll be fine.”
  • Caruso, recently elevated to the Bulls’ starting lineup ahead of second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu, has earned rave reviews from his coaches and colleagues, Johnson writes in another piece. “He changes the whole game,” DeRozan said. “AC could have four points. But take him out of the game and the game is completely different… He’s a helluva competitor and a helluva person. It’s hard to find teammates like that. The appreciation he has for the game is such a contagious thing. When you’re around him, you feel that joy.”

Central Notes: Diakite, Dosunmu, Williams, LaVine, Nembhard

With Dean Wade out three or four weeks with a shoulder injury, the Cavaliers started Mamadi Diakite against the Knicks on Sunday, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Diakite made one previous start this season as a fill-in for Jarrett Allen. The third-year big man out of Virginia, who went scoreless in 11 minutes, is on a two-way deal.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan moved Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu to the second unit and Donovan believes it could facilitate their development, particularly the young power forward, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “This may actually help his development, putting him in some situations where he can be a little more aggressive. I still think the development part for him is in place,” Donovan said.
  • Despite the lineup changes, the Bulls aren’t going anywhere unless Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic do a better job of blending their talents, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. LaVine concurs with that assessment. “Coach got to make his decisions, but you know the best players on the team, we got to be the ones that make the plays,” LaVine said. “On bad days, take the criticism. Good days, make sure to help us win. Play defense. Make the shot. That’s what you do. That’s why you’re in position to do this. It’s a player-driven league. I think it always starts from top to bottom.”
  • Andrew Nembhard has been a solid presence at both ends for the Pacers during his rookie campaign, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes. The Pacers signed the first pick of the second round to a four-year deal that is fully guaranteed for three full seasons and $6.4MM, a record amount for a second-rounder coming out of college. Nembhard, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer against the Lakers, is averaging 7.4 PPG and 3.4 APG in 21.9 MPG.
  • Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton missed Sunday’s game due to a sore groin, Agness tweets. It’s the first game he missed since being acquired from Sacramento last season.

Bulls Notes: Lineup, Williams, Dosunmu, Donovan

The Bulls made a change to their starting lineup on Friday against Golden State, replacing Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams with Alex Caruso and Javonte Green.

The new-look starting lineup didn’t exactly set the world on fire – the five-man group was outscored by seven points in just over 10 minutes of action – but head coach Billy Donovan said he liked what he saw and doesn’t expect it will just be a one-game tweak, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. He added that it wasn’t a defensive-minded move to try to slow down the high-powered Warriors.

“It was more to see, ‘Let’s see what this looks like,'” Donovan said, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m always evaluating and you’re not trying to make a decision after two or three games. But I think there’s a pretty decent body of work for the number of games we played. And I just wanted to take a look at something different.”

Dosunmu and Williams remained in the rotation, logging 21 and 19 minutes respectively, and Donovan said he appreciated how they handled the new roles.

“I understand there’s always a level of prestige with starting. I get all that. But I also think those guys see a bigger picture,” Donovan said. “It’s not like I said to them, ‘Hey listen, I’m moving you out of the starting lineup and you’re out of the rotation.’ I was really pleased with the way both responded. They’re team guys. They want to win. I’m sure in their heart of hearts want to start. But I also think the team is more important to them.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Donovan is hoping that the move to the second unit will encourage Williams, a former No. 4 overall pick, to avoid getting passive on offense. “The one thing we’ve been trying to do is to try to get him to be more aggressive,” Donovan said, per Johnson. “I think being out there with three terrific offensive players in Zach (LaVine) and Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) and DeMar (DeRozan), sometimes there aren’t as many opportunities. I told him in doing this I wanted him to be more aggressive offensively, that he was going to need to be somebody who could give that group a little bit of a pop. I look at it that this may actually help his development.”
  • Although the Bulls were pleased that Dosunmu and Williams accepted the lineup change without complaint, LaVine suggested that his teammates should view their demotions as a challenge. “I don’t think they should be happy or satisfied with it at all,” LaVine said, according to Johnson.
  • Writing for The Sun-Times, Cowley questions why Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf kept a lid on the contract extension that Donovan signed with the team before the season began, arguing that it’s a disservice to fans to try to keep that sort of move under wraps.
  • Donovan’s extension is a reflection of how the connection between him and president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has grown in recent years, according to Johnson, who notes that the two men speak almost daily and says there’s “never any misunderstanding in their shared, direct conversation.”

Billy Donovan Has Contract Extension With Bulls

Coach Billy Donovan signed an extension with the Bulls before the season began, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Donovan had two years remaining on his current deal when he negotiated the extension during the offseason. Charania doesn’t provide details of the extension, but he writes that Donovan is now under contract “for several more years.”

Chicago is just 86-88 under Donovan, but the team has shown steady progress since he became head coach. The Bulls were coming off a 22-win season when he was hired in 2020. They went 31-41 in Donovan’s first season, then improved to 46-36 and reached the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Charania points out that Chicago was among the league’s best teams last season before Lonzo Ball‘s knee injury in January. Through January 1, the Bulls were fifth in the league in offense and 10th in defense and they held the best record in the East for much of that time.

The team is currently 8-10 as Ball remains sidelined after another surgical procedure on his left knee in September. Sources tell Charania that Ball and the team remain hopeful that he can return sometime in the new year.

The 57-year-old Donovan came to the NBA in 2017 after winning two NCAA championships at Florida. He compiled a 243-157 record as head coach in Oklahoma City, which was a playoff team in all five seasons he spent there.