CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Bulls have hired former Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan has their new head coach.
“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 of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a news release. “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.”
Donovan and the Thunder agreed to part ways after his contact expired this year and the Bulls reportedly were aggressively pursuing Donovan to take over in Chicago.
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
Donovan, 55, signed a five-year deal with the Thunder after serving as the head coach for the University of Florida. He had a .608 winning percentage during the regular season with Oklahoma City but was below .500 in five straight post season appearances.
Still, the Bulls said Donovan’s winning percentage ranks 16th in NBA history, and trails only Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (.721), Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors (.709), and Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurts (.675) among active coaches.
“I want to thank Jerry, Michael, Arturas and Marc for the opportunity to coach the Chicago Bulls. I also want to thank them for the time and effort they put into this hiring process. I’m excited to partner with Arturas as we work together on behalf of this historic franchise,” Donovan said in the release.
Donovan succeeds Jim Boylen, who was ousted in a management shakeup after two years of lackluster results.
Still, the hire is surprising through the lens of Donovan’s exit in Oklahoma City, according to CBS Sports. His departure was reportedly based on the uncertainty of the Thunder’s future, with a likely rebuild coming. While the Bulls are farther along, they certainly are still in rebuilding mode.
Donovan coached the University of Florida for 19 years before arriving in Oklahoma City. In Gainesville, he coached his teams to an overall record of .715, and his teams had back-to-back National Championships in 2006 and 2007.
Donovan’s first experience as head coach came in 1994 at Marshall University. He had a record of .636 with the Thundering Herd.
Donovan also served as the head coach of USA Basketball’s U18 and U19 teams from 2012 to 2014.
A native of Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York, Donovan played four years at Providence in college. In his senior season, he averaged 20.6 points per game and helped lead the Friars to the NCAA Final Four. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the third round of the NBA Draft and played 44 games with the New York Knicks in 1987-1988.