Bulls hire former Thunder head coach Billy Donovan

Jason Owens
·2-min read

The Chicago Bulls announced on Tuesday that they have hired former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Donovan and the Thunder parted ways on Sept. 9 following Oklahoma City’s first-round playoff exit to the Houston Rockets. Donovan coached the Thunder for five seasons, and the two sides parted rather than work on a contract extension after his previous deal expired.

The Thunder made the playoffs in each of Donovan’s seasons in Oklahoma City, but are now engaged in a rebuild after Donovan inherited a team in 2015 featuring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan reacts during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Billy Donovan leaves one rebuilding project for another. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Donovan joins another rebuild in Chicago

Donovan joins a Bulls team that’s also in the midst of a rebuild and hasn’t won more than 27 games or made the postseason since 2017. Chicago fired second-year head coach Jim Boylen in August following a 22-43 campaign while citing the need for an “evolution in leadership.”

Boylen took over for fired head coach Fred Hoiberg midway through the 2018-19 season and tallied a 39-84 (.317) record.

The Bulls are building around a young core featuring Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Coby White, all of whom are under 26 years old and made their respective All-Rookie teams in recent seasons. Chicago has the No. 4 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Zach LaVine responds to Billy Donovan hire

LaVine found out the news while he was live-streaming a video game session. He seems excited?

Donovan was a top coaching target

Donovan was one of three finalists for NBA Coach of the Year this season as he led the Thunder to an unexpected playoff run after an offseason that included the departures of Westbrook and Paul George. Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors won the award.

Donovan shared NBCA Coach of the Year honors with Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks. The official award is voted on by media, while coaches conduct NBCA voting.

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