Billy Donovan Offers Candid Take on Bulls’ Season After Loss to Magic

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls are 37-41 on the season following their 113-98 loss to the Orlando Magic and Head Coach Billy Donovan knows the campaign has been disappointing.

They still hold a 1.0-game lead over the Atlanta Hawks for ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings. But they are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. That is the worst mark of any team currently in the Play-In Tournament field in the East.

Donovan has touted his team’s resolve in a season marred by injuries.

But the head coach spoke candidly about how things have played out as they put the finishing touches on another disappointing campaign.

‘‘If I’m going to sit there and say there’s enough in the locker room and we’ve been kind of going like this [up and down], treading water, maybe had some good moments, some bad moments, things like that, if there is enough there, then I’ve got to figure out, ‘OK, what could I have done better or [what] can I do more going forward to help these guys?’” Donovan said, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley on April 7.

“‘I certainly didn’t come here … to say, ‘Hey, listen, let’s be a play-in team.’ When I sat down first with [executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] and [general manager] Marc [Eversley] about this, it was to try and build something. I still feel like we’re building something, but I don’t think anyone is happy with where we’re at.’’

This is a harsh reality after Karnisovas set an expectation for improvement over last season.

Karnisovas doubled down on his faith in this current group, addressing his inactivity and plans for the future at the trade deadline.

Still, the Bulls cannot finish with a record above .500 this season, giving them back-to-back campaigns at or below that mark and six in the last seven years. They were 40-42 last season. It is arguably the worst stretch in the franchise’s 58-season history.

Bulls on Abmysmal Organizational Slump

The Bulls have had two stretches of losing seasons worse than their current seven-year run. They posted six straight losing campaigns from 1998-99 through the 2003-04 season. But that was on the heels of Michael Jordan retiring for the second time.

Their other stretch was in the late 70s to mid-80s when they had six consecutive losing seasons from 1981-82 through 1986-87 and nine in 10 campaigns going back to 1977-78.

But they made the postseason three times in those seasons.

The present-day Bulls have just one postseason appearance in the last six seasons. They will have to fight through the Play-In Tournament for the second year in a row. They narrowly lost their second-round Play-In matchup versus the Miami Heat last season.

Were it not for a chance to make up for that loss, they would be all but guaranteed their sixth season without playoffs in seven years.

Donovan pointed to the Bulls’ various injuries, with the notable trio of Lonzo Ball, Patrick Williams, and Zach LaVine just the most notable and severe of the issue this season. He also wasn’t relying on that, noting his disappointment in the team’s play in this loss to Orlando.

Billy Donovan Calls Out ‘Careless’ Turnovers in Bulls’ Loss

“You have 21 turnovers and you’re just not going to be scoring points. It’s hard to score points and win a game when you do that,” Donovan told reporters postgame. “Some of it was just careless, you know what I mean? It was us trying to thread the needle in between players on drives to the basket.”

Donovan pointed to DeMar DeRozan, who had a team-high 30 points. But he also led the Bulls with a season-high seven giveaways.

He also played 40 minutes, bolstering his lead in the minutes race.

He got little help from his teammates as Ayo Dosunmu committed five turnovers while Coby White and Nikola Vucevic scored 19 points combined on 5-for-20 shooting from the floor and 1-for-9 from beyond the arc.

Javonte Green, who was filling in for the injured Alex Caruso in the starting lineup, was the only other Bull to score at least 15 points. Dosunmu and Andre Drummond each had 14 points.