Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder mutually agreed to part ways in what seemed to be a rare, honest use of that phrase, as Donovan and Sam Presti met over some beers to discuss their tenure together and agree to move on separately.
Donovan, who never reached the level of success the Thunder hoped for during his tenure, did a spectacular job this past season with a team few expected to be as good as they ended up being, as OKC earned the 5-seed in the Western Conference before losing in seven games to the Rockets in the first round. Still, entering what appears to be a full blown rebuild, Donovan chose to part ways and seek a new opportunity.
That new home will reportedly be in Chicago, where he will join the Bulls as their new head coach under a new front office regime, as was reported on Tuesday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (and confirmed by Darnell Mayberry).
Billy Donovan has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of the Chicago Bulls, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 22, 2020
Can confirm Billy Donovan has agreed to become the Chicago Bulls next head coach. @wojespn first to report.
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) September 22, 2020
Shortly after, the Bulls confirmed the hire.
Welcome our new head coach, Billy Donovan!
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) September 22, 2020
Donovan went 243-157 in 400 games as the Thunder head coach, making the playoffs in all five of his seasons, although the last four saw first round exits. Still, he’s proven himself to be a quality coach in the NBA and for a Bulls team looking to make the leap into playoff contention, Donovan makes some sense to help get them there. What remains to be seen is whether he can take a team from perennial playoff contender to a title contender, but the Bulls are still a long way from that point and would be happy to cross that bridge when they get there.
For now, the Bulls are a team built around some young talent, led by Zach LaVine, but with a number of young pieces including Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Coby White, and Otto Porter Jr. The task for Donovan will be extracting the most out of that young talent and partnering with Arturas Karnisovas and the new Bulls front office to build a roster capable of making that jump into the playoff tier in the East.