Chicago Bulls hire Billy Donovan as head coach

By Jamal Collier, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

The Bulls hired Billy Donovan as their new head coach Tuesday evening, landing one of the biggest names available on the coaching market to fill their vacancy.

Donovan, 55, spent the last five seasons as the Oklahoma City Thunder's coach, going 243-157 (.608) and guiding the team to the playoffs all five years, including an appearance in the Western Conference finals in his first season.

In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year this season, the Thunder exceeded expectations and made the playoffs before losing in Game 7 of the first round against the Houston Rockets. It was their fourth consecutive first-round exit under Donovan.

The Thunder and Donovan, who won two NCAA championships as Florida's coach, could not agree on a new contract after the season and mutually parted ways as the team heads toward a potential rebuild.

Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas was able to land Donovan for one of the biggest coaching splashes in team history.


"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," Karnisovas said in a statement. "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."

Before taking the Thunder job in April 2015, Donovan spent 19 seasons at Florida, taking the Gators to the NCAA Tournament 14 times, including four Final Fours, three championship games and back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.

"I want to thank Jerry (Reinsdorf), Michael (Reinsdorf), Arturas and Marc (Eversley) for the opportunity to coach the Chicago Bulls," Donovan said in a statement. "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."

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