Two weeks after leaving Thunder, Billy Donovan accepts Bulls coaching job

Billy Donovan wasn’t on the NBA’s coaching open market long.

Two weeks after parting ways with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Donovan on Tuesday accepted a job to coach the Chicago Bulls.

“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,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas 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.”

Former Thunder head coach Billy Donovan is heading to Chicago to lead the Bulls. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

Donovan did an excellent job with this year’s Thunder. In the offseason, they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers – when they learned he wanted out – then traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul.

It looked like it might be a rebuilding year for the Thunder, but they finished 44-28 (tied for fourth place in the Western Conference), taking the Rockets to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Donovan, 243-157 in five seasons with Oklahoma City, was a sought-after coach; Philadelphia also had interest in him.

The Bulls are going through their own rebuild right now. They dismissed longtime front-office executives John Paxon and Gar Forman and hired Karnisovas from the Denver Nuggets. Karnisovas then decided not to bring back head coach Jim Boylen.

Chicago has veterans Zach LaVine and Otto Porter Jr., and young talent to work with – Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Coby White.

Donovan, who was unsure about a contract extension with the Thunder without knowing which direction the franchise planned to go, proved he could work with veterans and young players and develop them.

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