It seems like it has been forever since the Chicago Bulls have been a relevant NBA team. At least relevant at the right time. Sure, you could go back just a few years to the weird Dwyane Wade season and say they were relevant but were they? Really?
Bulls fans will tell you that was the last time that the team was even remotely fun, but I doubt anyone would mistake that for any actual relevance. Especially when the silly signings in the off-season before basically reset a rebuild that was already in progress.
One could trace the irrelevance of the Bulls all the way back to the mistakes that were made during and after the 1998 season. Letting a team break up that quite possibly had another couple of championships left in it was not a good look. I think even Jerry Reinsdorf would agree with that at this point.
Since the glory days of the Phil Jackson-Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen era, Bulls fans have suffered in every way imaginable. Call it Karma for completely dominating the better part of a decade. Call it what you want, its been rough.
From missed draft picks to missing the playoffs for what seems like 50 years in a row, to having your franchise player’s days of superstardom cut short by injury, partially caused by a questionable coaching decision that left him in the game in garbage time.
Then came a couple of questionable hires at head coach. Then came completely fumbling a rebuild by wasting money on Wade and trading Jimmy Butler. Obviously, one could write a novel on any one of those things and how they affected the present and future of the franchise.
A Brighter Future
Today, however, let us take a look at the future in a bit of brighter light. John Paxson is gone. Gar Forman. Gone. Jim Boylen, gone. In the past year, these are the moves that most Bulls fans wanted, and the ones that they got.
So, let’s take a look at the Bulls’ most recent ground-shifting hire. Billy Donovan joining the party this season for the Bulls.
In my opinion, it’s quite a head-scratcher that Donovan was fired in Oklahoma City. He didn’t put the roster together and they still outplayed expectations time and time, again. The Thunder will miss Donovan in a big way this season.
Billy D History
Donovan coached in NCAA D1 for 21 seasons. Two with Marshall, nineteen with Florida. His winning percentage over those 21 seasons was .709. He went .650 in inner-conference play.
In his five-year NBA career, Donovan has a win percentage of .608 but was only .439 in the playoffs. Regardless, his teams still often outplayed expectations. Bulls fans would appreciate just making it into the playoffs.
Jim Boylen put together a whopping .317 winning percentage during his short tenure as head coach for the Bulls. Not to mention the circus that we have started hearing about behind the scenes.
What does Coach Donovan have to look forward to in year-one? Well, hopefully, the Bulls are able to shed a few bad contracts this off-season. He will, of course, have the number four pick to work with in his first draft with the team, but whoever that player is can’t help in year-one.
Donovan’s going to have to figure out a way to evaluate the Bulls last four 1st round picks even if they were poorly coached the last few years. Once he establishes a core to build around with the help of the front office, the vision for the next few seasons should become clearer.
The free-agent dominos should start to fall once teams and players start to decide on team and player options. The Bulls should definitely add a veteran or two to the squad, but will they? Will Donovan be dead in the water before he even starts?
That remains to be seen, but one thing is clear in my opinion. This is a great hire for the Bulls, and if any available coach can lead them back to prominence, it’s Donovan. He’s already given the coaching staff a shakeup, and I anticipate that this roster will have a lot of turnover.
As the season draws nearer, we will check back in on the Bulls and Billy Donovan. Until then, all we can do is hope and pray that he has all of the answers.