The Chicago Bulls have hired Billy Donovan as the team’s head coach.
Donovan, 55, comes to the Bulls having spent the last five seasons manning the sidelines for the Oklahoma City Thunder. While in OKC, his teams amassed a record of 243-157 (.608) and made five consecutive trips to the playoffs. His winning percentage ranks 16th (min. 100 games) in NBA history, and trails only Nick Nurse (.721), Steve Kerr (.709) and Gregg Popovich (.675) among active coaches. He is also one of only four active first-time head coaches in the league (along with Rick Carlisle, Kerr and Erik Spoelstra) to lead their teams to the playoffs in each of their first five seasons as a 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 – 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.”
In 2015-16, his first season with the Thunder, he guided the team to a record of 55-27 (.671), as it claimed the Northwest Division title and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Donovan’s 55 wins put him in select company, as he became just the third first-year head coach over the previous 15 seasons to win 55 or more games in his first season. On April 5, 2017 at Memphis, the Thunder defeated the Grizzlies 103-100 for Donovan’s 100th career victory in the NBA. With the win, he became the first NBA head coach to win 100 or more games in his first two seasons after coming straight from the collegiate level. He claimed his 200th career coaching win on Oct. 27, 2019 versus Golden State.
“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,” said Billy Donovan.
Prior to his arrival in Oklahoma City, Donovan enjoyed a storied 19-year stint as the head coach at the University of Florida. While in Gainesville, he coached his teams to an overall record of 467-186 (.715). His term with the Gators was highlighted by back-to-back National Championships in 2006, and again in 2007. The consecutive titles marked the first time a men’s program won two straight basketball championships since Duke in 1991 and 1992. He also led the Gators to the Final Four in 2000 (losing in the NCAA Championship Game) and 2014, while making 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament, and two appearances in the NIT.
The Gators enjoyed sustained success under Donovan, as his teams posted 16 straight seasons with 20 or more wins, three campaigns with 30 or more wins, 17 consecutive trips to the postseason and six SEC Championships. In 2014-15, at the age of 49 years old, he became the second-youngest coach in NCAA history (Bobby Knight, 48-years old) to post 500 wins. Before arriving in Gainesville, Donovan’s first experience as a head coach came in 1994 at Marshall University. In two seasons with the Thundering Herd, he posted a record of 35-20 (.636).
Donovan has also enjoyed success with USA Basketball. From 2012-14, he served as the head coach of USAB’s U18 and U19 National Teams. Over that time, his squads compiled a record of 19-0 and claimed three gold medals during national team competition.
A native of Rockville Centre, New York, Donovan played four seasons at Providence (1983-87). His senior season, he averaged 20.6 ppg and helped lead the Friars to the 1987 Final Four. For his efforts, he earned Southeast Regional Most Outstanding Player honors, and also was named to the 1987 All-Big East first team, the 1987 Big East All-Tournament team and was an honorable mention All-American. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the third round (68th overall) of the 1987 NBA Draft and played a total of 44 games with the New York Knicks in 1987-88. In 1999, he was inducted into the Providence College Hall of Fame.