For the 2nd or 3rd time in my nearly 40 years on this planet, the Chicago Bulls have hired a veteran NBA head coach. Welcome Billy Donovan, to Chicago and the Bulls.
Donovan has accrued an extremely impressive resume over his long career as a head coach. From winning 2 NCAA championships with Bulls Legend Joakim Noah at the University of Florida, to amassing the 4th best winning percentage among active NBA coaches over the past few years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Donovan is a proven winner and beloved leader. Every player he’s ever coached, every assistant that’s ever worked for him, have only glowing things to say about the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
This is a surprise hire, and an inspired one for Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley and the rest of the Round Table. Besides from a lone Woj tweet after Donovan and the Thunder parted ways a couple weeks ago, he wasn’t really talked about as a top candidate for the Bulls position.
The Chicago Bulls are expected to have an interest in considering Donovan for the franchise’s head coaching job, sources tell ESPN. The Bulls are just completing a first-round of interviews with several candidates. https://t.co/jUHQ2kiuEo
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 9, 2020
With so many other, more desirable jobs available, it seemed foolish to expect an established NBA head coach to be interested in leading the Bulls rebuild. I fully expected, like so many other fans and media, that the Bulls would announce Wes Unseld Jr, Denver’s hotshot assistant coach, as Jim Boylen’s replacement when the Nuggets playoff run ended. Instead, Arturas pulled a fast one and hired the most qualified candidate on the market.
Donovan checks all the boxes for the ideal Round Table coach.
1. He is a players coach. Able to hold his team accountable while maintaining strong and positive relationships with the players. That kind of balance is hard to achieve at the professional level, just ask Boylen and Fred Hoiberg, and Donovan is a master of it.
2. Donovan has developed young players brimming with potential to superstardom. He helped shepherd Russell Westbrook to, and through, his MVP season, and did a great job getting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the aging Chris Paul, and the remnants of the Thunder back into the playoffs this season after the blockbuster trade last summer left them Westbrook-less.
3. He instantly brings credibility back to the Bulls franchise. After being a laughing stock for about half a decade, going from the befuddled and overwhelmed Hoiberg to the bombastic and clueless Boylen, Billy Donovan is a known commodity, a respected and respectful basketball guy, and someone players want to play for.
Karnisovas and Eversley didn’t just hire Donovan to be a player development guy. This is a clear message to the NBA that the culture in Chicago has changed. The franchise IS under new management, and they aren’t pulling punches. They are serious about winning and the business of basketball. Hiring Donovan is the type of move that might turn a free agents head and help the Bulls land a star during those long off-season months. This is a move that tells the NBA “Chicago is on its way, and you want to be part of this!”
I’ve said it before, but it truly is exciting to be a Bulls fan right now. Are there negatives to this hire? Probably, but I don’t feel like search for, or bringing them to light right now. That sort of stuff becomes all too apparent over time anyway. Right now it’s time to celebrate, again. Not just for the hiring of a competent head coach, but also for the fresh approach we’re seeing from Karnisovas and Eversley. From the exhaustive coaching search they ran, to the surprise hire – the Bulls new management team has given us all a bit of hope.
And finally, I’d like to add a giant shout out to the Reinsdorf family for taking a chance on Arturas and his vision. It’s not often that we see the Reinsdorfs embrace the big market approach to their sports teams. Though we haven’t seen the particulars on Donovan’s deal, considering his experience and track record, I can only assume he will be paid substantially more than previous coaches have been paid here in Chicago. Kudos to the Reinsdorfs for going big.
That’s all for now, dear reader. The next big hurdle for Arturas and Eversley will be what to do on draft night. Until they surprise us again, thanks for reading, and GO BULLS!