On November 29th, 2022, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Chicago Bulls extended Head Coach Billy Donovan following their first-round elimination.
In a decision that stunned the Bulls fanbase, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas secretly extended coach Donovan. The Bulls front office kept the signing hidden in hopes of being able to make the announcement after a hot start to the season; only the hot start never came. Instead, the Chicago Bulls even looked mediocre and frankly poorly coached. The announcement came after victories against the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. The front office waited for a moment when the Bulls looked strong to make the announcement. Unfortunately, that moment would not last.
With 17 games left on the season, the Bulls are 29-36, a record that wouldn’t secure a play-in tournament spot today. The mediocre play has led to fans calling out coach Donovan’s poor coaching technique. For example, the Bulls are 11-22 in clutch games this season and have blown numerous leads leading to disappointing losses. Billy Donovan has displayed bad coaching techniques down the stretch of the season. Allowing the Bulls to be heavily outrebounded by the Raptors without adjusting the lineup showed his poor decision-making.
Billy Donovan has failed to develop talent on the roster. The #4 pick of the 2020 draft has looked virtually the same over his three years in the league. While clearly, this season is Patrick Williams’ best; he has not taken the massive leap he looks capable of. Coby White has also played virtually identically his entire career. The Bulls drafted White with the #7 pick in 2019, hoping to adjust him to be ready for the competitiveness of the NBA. The Chicago Bulls dumped Lauri Markannen for a protected first and Derrick Jones Jr, and he has now competed in his first career all-star game and looks to have a shot at making an all-NBA team. While former head coach Jim Boylen is partly to blame, the Chicago Bulls didn’t see a role for Markannen, who now looks like a top young talent in this league.
Ultimately, the decision to extend Donovan falls on the plate of Arturas Karnisovas, who hoped the successes of his first two seasons as VP would last. Karnisovas lacked the judgment to hold the team to a high standard. Rewarding a head coach for losing in 5 games in the first round of the NBA playoffs does not warrant an extension. For a man who preached continuity, continued success should have been at the front of his mind.