UA-59049186-1 Welcome to Chicago, Basketball Edition: Billy Donovan, Head Coach - Good if it Goes

Welcome to Chicago, Basketball Edition: Billy Donovan, Head Coach

(Photo credit: Nate Billings, The Oklahoman)

Tuesday, the Bulls announced the hire of Billy Donovan as the team’s new head coach. Donovan was the most proven name available and new EVP of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas went and got his man. Literally. He flew down to Florida to sell Donovan on the job. Woj, transcribed by Bleacher Nation:

“When Billy Donovan walked away from the OKC job, Arturas Karnisovas  – the new executive VP in Chicago – wanted to meet with him right away,” Woj said on the Keshawn, JWill, & Zubin Podcast on ESPN. “They were waiting to see if he would pry loose from the Thunder. Karnisovas flew down to Florida, to Billy Donovan’s home, and met with him a few days after that and really started to sell him on the idea, get to know him”

Donovan built up the program at the University of Florida and led them to back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007 before accepting the head coaching job with the Orlando Magic. Donovan got cold feet a week later and went back to Florida. He would leave Florida a second time, this one for real, in 2015, taking the head coaching position with Oklahoma City. Donovan spent five years there, making the playoffs every year. After this past season, the two sides agreed to part ways.

The good news here is that the Bulls appear to be able to procure top talent now. Karnisovas clearly isn’t messing around and, before they’ve even played a game under his watch, has the franchise back to relevance. There is roughly zero chance that GarPax would have been able to snag one of the reigning coaches of the year as AK has done here. Players seem enthused about the move; no more time cards for them. Donovan has a strong reputation for building a good rapport with his players.

Your author is slightly less than thrilled with the hire; he was hoping they’d swing for the fences and hire Tim Duncan. Your author believes Duncan is going to be a great head coach and wanted to get in on the ground floor of that. If not Duncan, I also would’ve preferred a rising star such as Ime Udoka or Wes Unseld, Jr, to Donovan. While Donovan has made the playoffs every year he’s been in the NBA, he’s only advanced past the first round once, that run coming to an end in the Western Conference Finals with the blowing of a 3-1 lead to Golden State. Immediately after said choke job, the team’s best player split. Not ideal.

Even on his worst day, though, Donovan is a massive upgrade from Jim Boylen and will steady the ship in Chicago. The best-case scenario here is that Karnisovas puts together a strong roster that Donovan is able to coach to great postseason success. The worst-case scenario is that he cleans up the cultural mess left by Boylen, as John Fox did for the Bears post-Trestman. Even in a worst-case scenario, though, Donovan should have more success in Chicago than fox did.


Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

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