It's as if Billy Donovan is coaching for his next job, not this one
checked out, again
The Bulls were outright embarrassed last night in Boston. If the In Season Tournament has done one thing, it’s reduced the chances for AK to spin ‘competitive losses against good teams just gotta be more consistent’. Last night being an example of the actually-good teams being more likely to try against a bottom-rung opponent like Chicago.
That’s the opponent, a dynamic to which AK has spoken to at length in his rare appearances all offseason because he’s far from a good enough salesman to get people believing in his own team.
(I think if AK was forced to speak on last night, he would say at least it wasn’t at home. He’s moved the goalposts back to that point before, platitudes about hard working Chicagoans or whatever. They host the Bucks tomorrow night.)
As to his own team’s effort, not much more to say after Monday’s post: they’re done with this.
But there was even more evidence on Tuesday, exacerbated by the opponent offense being good and motivated.
Much of the “narrative” surrounding Donovan’s coaching performance in this game was regarding goofy unwritten rules and living in loserdom. The Celtics leaving in their starters to maintain a 23 point lead, doing hack-a-Drummond, etc. Donovan was so concerned he approached opposing head coach Joe Mazzulla during the game. After the game, Mazzulla was treating the Chicago Bulls like a D2 college football opponent who gets paid to travel to Tuscaloosa and get waxed.
(this, after their last IST game, where DeRozan similarly whined. By the way, the Bulls scored the least amount of points of any team in this thing, which included all teams.)
But what was far more concerning to people watching the game than sportsmanship was the offensive nature to which the coaches and players, went about their jobs.
"I take responsibility of where we’re at too. I look at myself first in terms of things I can do better to help our group. That’s my main focus."
And credit to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, who went after Donovan (trigger warning: Billy chewing loudly in the mic) specifically on the above play. Now, Joe is still an idiot, so it was a meandering question baked in with his brand of macho dipshittery, but he got to a very good point that I’ll paraphrase:
What the coach can control is playing time. Why not start benching LaVine and Vucevic - who keeps sinking lower and was demolished by former Bulls legend Luke Kornet - when they don’t show effort?
Billy essentially replied “nah”
“I tried to address it the best we could. I’m not a big threatening guy. I generally don’t do that. I try to confront whatever is there; if something is an issue I try to address it.
Every possession offensively and defensively you want the effort to be at a high level. I also know Vooch, DeMar and Zach, all these guys, are important to the success of the team and we need them to play at a level effort wise and skill wise like they are capable of. For me, putting it out there and confronting it is what I try to do.”
This is ridiculous on its face, but is also what being a “player friendly” coach means. Donovan applies this to everyone who’s a veteran, from non-stars like LaVine and DeRozan, to role players like Vucevic, to minimum guys like Drummond.
Billy Donovan probably has another NBA job left in his coaching career, and he knows it’s more likely to go better if he continues to cater to the players who aren’t going to be here rather than trying to achieve success for the franchise he currently works for.
As I’ve said, and we all pretty much agree I think, a coaching change now won’t offer much improvement. But I really just want a coach who will bench Vuc. Donovan actually did this in the 2nd quarter, limiting his second stint to 4 and a half minutes and finishing the first half with a non-center lineup for perhaps the first significant time all season. Though it wasn’t that significant as they were already down 25 points, so going +2 didn’t really mean much.
But then Vuc played the entire 3rd quarter, overall in 25 minutes taking 11 shots and having the 2nd highest usage out of the starting lineup where he should be the 4th option. I can’t tell if Donovan is in lockstep with the front office in believing in the “Double-Double Machine”, or is intentionally showing them that they have invested, and doubled-down, in not even a poor-man’s Jokic but one of the worst starting centers in the entire league.
Vuc had a much higher usage than LaVine, who by virtue of being a far better more dynamic player looks worse when he’s just as checked-out.
I truly don’t think LaVine’s poor play affects his trade value. People around the league know he wants off the team. Being hurt perhaps would change things though. He left last night’s game with foot soreness that’s been recurring over the past week. We don’t have to question the severity, just shut him down.
Donovan also said before the game last night effectively that his team is what their record is. This is a likely-unintentional shot at his boss, who always tries to caveat the record into a positive outlook. But if looking at that record truly objectively, and knowing the contract dynamics surrounding a lot of the players, it means it’s past the time where we “need” the Mid 3 to improve. The team is awful to where there isn’t much downside to finally giving up on them.
That’d be a decision coming from a coach who has the best interests of the team at the forefront, and I’m not seeing Donovan coach like that.
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