By Max Feldman
Call me critical. The Bulls hiring of former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach, Billy Donovan, is dangerous for both parties.
Wiping out the front office, the hiring of Arturas Karnisovas and Mark Eversley and rumors of remodeling the roster and young core all provided me with overflowing optimism for the Chicago Bulls organization. Chicago needs some shuffling, and they were showing signs of it. Zach LaVine has not proved to be a winning piece. Lauri Markkannen has yet to prove durability or two way production. Coby White has a promising trajectory as a scorer, but might not ever be a prominent playmaker. Wendell Carter is an extremely solid big man, but his ceiling has never been exceptionally high. Each has their respective value as players 25 years old or younger, but transactions are undoubtedly necessary to efficiently mold a playoff team.
Billy Donovan won two national championships with the Florida Gators prior to making the jump to the NBA with overflowing optimism. To say Donovan has disappointed in his NBA tenure is not my direction here, as he simply has not. Five straight trips to the playoffs, in the Western conference especially, is everything you could ask for from a front office. Right?
So why did Donovan and OKC part ways? Donovan is unwilling to play without proven talent on his roster. He was not willing to be part of the upcoming rebuild that Sam Presti has planned. Presti, one of FOG’s favorite executives in the NBA, has accumulated an NBA record breaking amount of draft picks through trades and plans to invest in his eye for talent moving forward. With an ultra competitive Western Conference, I am all in on Presti’s moves. The Thunder are likely to dive into the assistant coach pool and snag a rising star who can develop alongside what will be an extremely young roster.
I was a supporter of Billy Donovan to the 76er’s or even the Pacers, but the Bulls are not ready to win. The Bulls are miles away from where the Thunder were when Donovan entered the league.
Donovan was awarded a ton of credit for elevating the Thunder to the top of the West this season, deservedly so, but Chris Paul, Dennis Schroeder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all made massive statements as individual players.
Is it reasonable to fear what Donovan’s scheme might look like without future Hall of Famers? A resounding yes here.
In simple, the Bulls are in need of a reboot and a makeover. I understand the appeal of moving forward with the current pieces, including the 4th overall pick, but I would warn Bulls fans to limit their expectations. Yes, Donovan could certainly elevate the Bulls from day one, and that would not surprise me for a moment, but I would be astounded if Billy Donovan ever carries the Bulls to an Eastern Conference Final or beyond.
Darvin Ham, Wes Unseld Jr or Adrian Griffin would have provided a more fitting outlook to the message the franchise has been giving off over the last few months.