UPDATE: Sept. 24 — We’ve got the details of Billy Donovan’s contract with the Bulls. It is for four years at $24 million, so $6 million per season, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Billy Donovan has agreed to a deal to become the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Tuesday. Donovan had been the head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder, though the two sides were unable to agree on a deal and mutually decided to part ways. This was after OKC was bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Rockets.
The Bulls had a big overhaul in the front office this season with the departure of long-time brain trust GarPax (Gar Forman and John Paxson). Chicago brought in Arturas Karnisovas from the Denver Nuggets to be president of basketball ops. Karnisovas’ fire major move was parting ways with coach Jim Boylen after another failed season. Karnisovas’ second major move will be bringing in Donovan as head coach to lead a young group into the future.
This is a great hire on a lot of levels for the Bulls. Instead of bringing in a former assistant who may take time to adapt to being a head coach, you get an established coach in Donovan. Billy D never had a losing season in five years with the Thunder, making the postseason in all of his campaigns. He boasts an impressive 243-157 record in the regular season (.608 winning percentage) and an 18-23 record in the playoffs.
The results weren’t always there for OKC in the postseason, but Donovan had progressively less to work with. In his first season, he helped the Thunder advance to the Western Conference Finals, losing to the Warriors in seven games. That led to the departure of Kevin Durant and the Thunder were never really the same elite team. Still, Donovan had them in it in the tough West and in the postseason every season.
The big task for Donovan in Chicago will be getting back to the playoffs with a relatively young and unproven roster. This roster mimics those he had while coaching at the University of Florida — riddled with 3-point shooters and a tough anchor down low. Zach LaVine, Coby White and Lauri Markkanen are viewed as the cornerstones along with Wendell Carter Jr. as the anchor down low. The Bulls also have the No. 4 overall pick to add another promising young prospect to the fold.
As a two-time NCAA Championship winning coach, Donovan knows what it takes to develop young talent. He also proved he can win while juggling some of the top superstars in the NBA. Donovan’s teams are also known for playing tough defense, something that isn’t prevalent throughout the league and an issue for the Bulls since Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler left the team. Overall, this is a huge win for Chicago. Really, the only better option out there would have been Mike D’Antoni.
You also have to love the possibility of Donovan bringing in his former player and former Bulls great Joakim Noah. Imagine Noah retiring to become an assistant for Donovan in Chicago? I mean that type of narrative doesn’t just grow on trees, you guys! As a Bulls fan, I’m loving what Arturas is doing so far. The future appears to be bright with the next step looking toward the 2020 NBA Draft and the 4th overall pick.