(670 The Score) The Bulls have hired Billy Donovan as their new coach, they announced Tuesday evening. Contract details weren't immediately available.
Donovan, 55, coached the Thunder for the past five seasons but mutually parted ways with them after Oklahoma City was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Donovan amassed a 243-157 record in leading the Thunder to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons. His .608 winning percentage ranks 16th in NBA history among coaches with a minimum of 100 games and is fourth among active coaches.
The hiring of Donovan was a bit surprising, as he didn't have a direct prior working connection to new Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas or general manager Marc Eversley in the way that other candidates did. There were also questions surrounding whether Donovan wanted to be part of a rebuild, as that's the direction the Thunder appear headed and a phase the Bulls are currently in. The Bulls were known to have interviewed nearly a dozen candidates from around the NBA, including a handful of lead assistant coaches.
"We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls," Karnisovas said in a statement. "The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level. 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.”
Donovan coached the University of Florida for 19 years before moving to the NBA in 2015. While there, he led the Gators to a pair of national championships and compiled a .715 winning percentage.
Upon being hired Tuesday, Donovan expressed his gratitude to the Reinsdorf family and the Bulls in a statement.
“I want to thank Jerry, Michael, Arturas and Marc for the opportunity to coach the Chicago Bulls," Donovan said. "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."
Bulls guard Zach LaVine learned of Donovan's hiring as he was streaming live while playing video games and called Donovan a "really good coach."
The Bulls fired coach Jim Boylen in mid-August after two unsuccessful seasons under his leadership. The Bulls were 22-43 and were left out of the NBA's 22-team restart in Orlando this season.
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.