If you have been waiting to hear news on a replacement coach for the Chicago Bulls, the team officially announced on Tuesday that Billy Donovan would become the 24th head coach in team history after firing Jim Boylen in August.
Billy Donovan, who has spent the past five seasons as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is transitioning to the Chicago Bulls after leading his previous team to the playoffs in all five seasons. He has a reputation of knowing what he’s doing on a sideline, which prior to 2020 was not a prerequisite to becoming the head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
The Chicago Bulls are in a precarious position. The winning percentage for the team throughout the last three years is second-worst in the NBA to only the New York Knicks. However, the latest news from experts in the NBA believe the team has built a roster that’s talented enough to snag a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While much of that talent has either underwhelmed, been injured, or not meshed together, it’s a general consensus that the head coach and front office has been what has held the Chicago Bulls back.
Billy Donovan changes that. Well, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley began that change, and now the entrance of Billy Donovan as the head coach solidifies it. Even if the Chicago Bulls roster construct isn’t built to work, at least they’re making a concerted effort to figure it out. And at minimum, the hiring of Billy Donovan signals to the entire NBA that the Chicago Bulls are willing to finally accept the modern-day NBA. Success or not, we can rest easy knowing the organization is embracing what’s been needed for a decade. These aren’t the same old Bulls.
Welcome our new head coach, Billy Donovan!
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) September 22, 2020Advertisement
Since the Chicago Bulls tried and failed to lure both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to Chicago in the summer of 2010 it’s almost as if they’ve accepted not being good enough. Every move they’ve made has been one of the status quo and there has been no push to operate as a prototypical flagship NBA organization. Billy Donovan may not be LeBron James but he is the prized free agent coach of this offseason. And that means something.
Because it goes deeper than that. Not only have the Chicago Bulls been allergic to luring big-name free agents to Chicago, but they have also bungled just about every in-house relationship with the stars they have on their own team. The Bulls’ well-documented splits with Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Tom Thibodeau are three prime examples of the egomaniacal approach to basketball operations under the Gar Forman/John Paxson era, but also the Hoiberg and Boylen coaching tenures.
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Players of all roles openly criticized previous Chicago Bulls coaches mid-season for the better part of the past decade. Kiss those days goodbye. If there is anything that Billy Donovan is known for it is his reputation for cultivating great relationships with his players. You can count the number of players who respected Fred Hoiberg on one hand. There was a literal mutiny against Jim Boylen at one point. These situations won’t happen under the new Chicago Bulls Coach. It sounds silly but having an actual baseline of players and coaches that get along to build off of is something the Chicago Bulls finally have.
For better or worse, this all means the Chicago Bulls might actually go for something in the near future. And that’s something to find comfort in. Because in the modern NBA you cannot win unless you score, and you cannot score unless you shoot. The latest news from the Chicago Bulls is an indicator that they are willing to take risks. It might not go in. But finally, in what feels like forever, they’re taking their shot.
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Featured Image Credit: Chicago Bulls Twitter