Dramatic change, something the Bulls have been allergic to for years.
It’s why John Paxson and Gar Forman leeched onto their executive titles for decades despite rapidly dwindling job performances.
It’s why since those two canned Tom Thibodeau, their last two head coaching hires were lazily plucked from known circles instead of an actual search.
It’s probably why top free agents never end up in Chicago.
But with the hiring of Billy Donovan after the firing of former head coach Jim Boylen, the new Bulls executive team led by Arturas Karnisovas have looked to signal, finally: real, dramatic, meaningful change for the Bulls.
Not only does Billy Donovan not have any connections to Iowa State, he could be considered the “top free agent” in coaching. He was certainly the most accomplished name that they interviewed:
Before hiring Billy Donovan as their next head coach, a source said the Chicago Bulls also interviewed Stephen Silas, Jamahl Mosley, Dan Craig, Kenny Atkinson, Jarron Collins, Ime Udoka, David Vanterpool, Wes Unseld, Jr, Darvin Ham also Chris Fleming.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 23, 2020
And the Bulls, for once, actually got their top target. As Darnell Mayberry wrote in The Athletic, this looks to have been a great recruitment by the Bulls.
According to one person with knowledge of the negotiations, Donovan came away impressed as much with Karnišovas and new general manager Marc Eversley as he was with the job they were selling him.
Plus they likely spent money to do it. Although details of his contract haven’t been released yet, it’s likely the Bulls paid a handsome sum to secure Donovan’s services. This means that from the outset of his tenure, Karnisovas has found a way to shake money out of Bulls ownership, both in firing a coach with money left on his deal plus hiring the new one. This should be the expectation, but it is notable as another dramatic change.
Donovan brings a heck of a resume to Chicago. A two-time NCAA champion during his time in the college ranks at the University of Florida. A winning picture hovering over 60 percent in the NBA. A playoff berth in all five of his NBA seasons so far, notably in the Western Conference.
For a more full analysis on what Donovan brings to the Bulls especially in regards to the X’s and O’s, definitely read our guy Stephen Noh’s piece on The Patreon.
Perhaps most exciting from Noh’s article is his endorsement of Donovan’s player development ability. With guys like Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Zach LaVine at critical junctures of their careers this is just what the doctor ordered.
Donovan also has a reputation for fostering fantastic relationships with his players. After Fred Hoiberg struggled to earn respect, there was a literal mutiny against Jim Boylen, this would be a dramatic change as well.
The endorsements of the Donovan hire don’t stop with our favorite long-haired big man. Another former Florida Gator, Bradley Beal, used just one word and a series of punctuation marks to make his feelings known .Meanwhile, current Bulls players Zach LaVine and Ryan Arcidiacono also took to social media to express their approval of the hire.
The difference in reaction is indication that Donovan’s hire is not only a home run, but that there’s real, dramatic, significant change going down.