NBA Rumor: Bulls Coaching Search

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The Bulls hired Donovan, 55, to replace Jim Boylen on Tuesday, another sign that new executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas means business. And Noah, in a phone conversation from New York, strongly praised the move. “It feels great. I just know they’re in good hands,” Noah said. “It’s a team that I sacrificed a lot for, given a lot for. So when I see a hire like that, it just makes me happy. I know that I have family in the building. It’s exciting.

“I’m happy for the Bulls’ organization because they’re getting a great coach, somebody who is an unbelievable motivator and somebody who is family to me. When they decided to name the (Florida) court ‘Billy Donovan Court’ all his old players came to support him. That just says a lot about who is as a man and who he is as a person — just the fact everybody would show up for his celebration. “He’s someone who cares about his players, someone who is very demanding, someone who is very competitive and just has a great balance to him. It’s a great hire.”

“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls. The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level,” said Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President – Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas. “We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster. Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”

Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley believed Donovan was the best coach available in the marketplace, and his track record in Oklahoma City — including five straight trips to the playoffs in the Western Conference – fit for the Bulls. Donovan, 56, was the National Basketball Coach’s Association’s Co-Coach of the Year with Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer for 2019-2020. The NBA’s coaches vote on the award. Karnisovas dismissed former coach Jim Boylen in May, and talked with a number of candidates before extending the offer to Donovan.

Darnell Mayberry on Dan Craig for Bulls head coaching job: “I think he checks those boxes in the sense of being a good relationship guy being, a bright mind in terms of understanding the game and also having hard working mentality. You can just tell in his background, the way he had to fight for everything going to the league, what his personality is about, I think he would bring that as a coach. The knock that I continue to hear on him is that he’s not a strong enough personality

Does that coaching history explain why new Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley are being so deliberate in assessing current coach Jim Boylen? Joe Cowley of the Chicago Suns-Times on 670 The Score: There is a perception problem, and when you come from the outside – like Arturas did and Marc Eversley have – you know what that perception problem is. Carlisle, the Dallas coach, has made it very clear the disdain the coaches association and a lot of coaches have for the Bulls and the practices they have toward coaches. The way they’ve treated them as commodities for more than three, four decades, the way they’ve fired guys on Christmas Eve. So, there is a perception problem that I think these guys want to change coming in now to this that the old regime didn’t care about nor did they maybe even see fully.

While keeping in mind this is a report based on a hypothetical (if realistic) scenario where Boylen loses his job, it would not be a surprise to see Udoka get his first crack as a head coach next season, whenever that is. Well-regarded in coaching circles prior to arriving in Philadelphia, the Sixers made him one of the league’s highest-paid assistants, plucking him away from Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio last June to offer his services behind Brett Brown.

For those who aren’t familiar with how Brown sets up his staff, he believes in doling out specialized responsibilities in a manner similar to NFL staffs. Udoka was tasked with being the team’s “defensive coordinator” this season, and you could often see him barking instructions from the sideline on big defensive possessions and pulling guys aside for last-minute instructions. And some of his instructions were just about basic fundamentals, like making sure defenders were showing their hands while fighting through screens.

Adrian Griffin and Ime Udoka among coaching candidates to replace Jim Boylen

Boylen has laid low since the NBA suspended its season on March 11. His lone public comments came two weeks ago, in the form of a team-issued press release in which he welcomed Karnisovas, congratulated Michael and Jerry Reinsdorf and thanked former bosses John Paxson and Gar Forman once more. Behind the scenes, however, Boylen is working as if he’ll be in place next season. A league source told The Athletic minor changes already are in the works with the current staff.
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