Billy Donovan takes over as head coach of a Chicago Bulls team who went 22-43 this season and finished in eleventh place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings.
Donovan, 55, inherits a Bulls roster that features star swingman, Zach LaVine.
A UCLA product, LaVine averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals per contest this season and was a borderline NBA All-Star. “By the end of the season, once we get team success, everybody is going to think about that,” LaVine told me before the NBA All Star break in February.
Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Thaddeus Young, Ryan Arcidiacono, Otto Porter Jr., Denzel Valentine, Shaquille Harrison and Chandler Hutchison fill out that roster.
So does Coby White. The Bulls’ seventh pick in the 2019 NBA draft, the North Carolina Tar Heel shot 35.4% from downtown in his rookie season and averaged 13.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game.
How are the Bulls positioned? “That’ll be interesting,” Jeff Van Gundy Gundy told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“Donovan has had tremendous success everywhere he’s been in coaching.”
Donovan replaced Jim Boylen who was hired in December 2018 and fired this summer after compiling a 39-84 record.
Last month, Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder parted ways after five NBA seasons. In those five seasons, Donovan compiled a 243–157 coaching record while making the postseason each year and advancing past the first round just once.
The Thunder’s season was surpising to many this season. After trading All Star guard Russell Westbrook last summer, the Thunder finished this season with a 44-28 record and a fifth place finish in the NBA’s Western Conference standings.
Led by point guard, Chris Paul, the Thunder has a good supporting cast and a potent roster that included Steven Adams, Lu Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroeder, Danilo Gallinari and Nerlens Noel. The team is looking for a new head coach after the firing of Billy Donovan.
Chris Paul averaged 17.6 points, 5 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.6 steals in the regular season.
Now that Billy Donovan is in the Windy City, new goals must be met. In the spring, the Bulls named Marc Eversley their General Manager and Arturas Karnisovas their executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.
With Billy Donovan as their head coach, the young team has NBA Playoff aspirations. “I think they need to embrace what he’s teaching and embrace doing the hard stuff in the NBA,” say Jeff Van Gundy.
“Which is defending on a nightly basis, putting your body on the line in the paint to rebound the ball and passing and cutting which requires unselfishness, energy and conditioning.”