In April, the Bulls hired a new head of basketball operations for the first time in 17 years.
In August, this new manager, Artūras Karnišovas, fired a coach who was liked by the property and remained on his contract for two years.
On Tuesday night, the Bulls hired their first head coach with 17 years of NBA experience to replace Jim Boylen.
This coach, Billy Donovan, has just completed a five-year, $ 30 million deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. So it didn’t come out cheap.
To say that this is a new era for Bulls basketball is like saying that Donovan had some success during his five seasons in Oklahoma City, which included a winning percentage of .608 and a trip to the Western finals. conference.
Some may change Donovan̵
When Karnišovas began his search for Boylen, he focused mainly on longtime assistant coaches looking for their first opportunity. Only Kenny Atkinson, who resigned from the Nets, was previously a head coach.
Then Thunder and Donovan, with their contract, agreed to separate when the franchise bounced off the bubble playoffs. Both Karnishovas and the bulls pounced.
Donovan is a proven winner. For nearly two decades before joining Thunder, he built the University of Florida at the power plant, amassing 467 victories, a 715-win percentage and two national titles in 19 seasons. His 608 win in the NBA is better than all but two coaches in the history of the Bulls franchise, Phil Jackson (.738) and Tom Thibodeau (.647). He came to Chicago a year after the 10th worst campaign in franchise history, winning a percentage.
But hiring is moving beyond Donovan’s authority. In fact, he says as much about Karnišovas as anything else. The fact that he has full confidence in the property – not to mention a checkbook – cannot be overstated. He hired the most expensive candidate interviewed.
He also felt comfortable hiring someone he hadn’t previously worked with – such as the Denver Nuggets’ assistant coach Wes Nesseld Jr. – and someone with a strong personality and name recognition.
In fact, talk to the people around the league about Donovan and Karnishovas and you will hear some similar topics. Fiery competition behind the friendly exterior. A modest approach to success. Leaders who give priority to team building over individual fame.
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It should also not be overlooked that Karnišovas sold his vision for the future of the Bulls to Donovan. Donovan left Thunder in part because he is likely to undergo a significant recovery. But a young group or not, the Thunder were a playoff team in the healthy Western Conference when Donovan left them.
The Bulls are far from a playoff team.
Assuming that this happened during the interview process, it would be fascinating to hear the shared conversations between Donovan and Karnishovas about the Bulls staff. This is the next step: Where does the list go from here? Donovan would not have taken the job if he had not been comfortable in that direction.
But no matter who is on the list, he will be guided by a coach who checks all the fields set by Karnišovas for his prerequisite for hiring. Donovan is known as a strong communicator who holds players accountable while cultivating respectful relationships. His player development skills were shown this season.
After all, by voting from his peers from the National Basketball Coaches Association, Donovan won Coach of the Year awards along with Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks.
This is a new era in Bulls basketball. It did not arrive cheaply and still won nothing but press conferences.
But Karnišovas, general manager Mark Eversley and Donovan come from winning programs. This is the beginning.
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