Chicago Bulls signed coach Billy Donovan to a years-long contract extension ahead of 2022-23 season – The Mercury News


The Chicago Bulls signed coach Billy Donovan to a contract extension this summer ahead of the 2022-23 season, retaining him for at least four more years.

The Bulls confirmed the signing, which The Athletic initially reported Tuesday. Donovan’s original contract ran through the 2023-24 season, and the extension reportedly will increase that by “several more years.”

After practice Tuesday in Phoenix, Donovan said conversations about the extension began at the start of the summer when vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas approached him. Donovan said he did not pursue the extension but hopes to stay in Chicago long term.

“I’ve loved the relationships inside the organization,” he said. “I don’t want to sit there and use words like ‘alignment,’ but I think that we’re on the same page as we see things. Being able to have open, honest dialogue and not necessarily get worried about not being able to speak the truth is really healthy in any relationship, in any environment. And I feel like I have that with Artūras.”

Donovan, 57, has gone 86-88 in his first two-plus seasons in Chicago, leading the Bulls to their first playoff berth in five years last season. His tenure has included a rebuild of the roster around forward DeMar DeRozan and guard Zach LaVine, who signed a $215 million maximum contract in the offseason.

His coaching tenure also has been plagued by major injuries to key players — most notably point guard Lonzo Ball, who has not played since January after incurring a knee injury that required two surgeries and befuddled team doctors. The Bulls remain hopeful Ball will be available this season, but he has not practiced in nearly 11 months.

In the meantime Donovan has had to adapt the lineup without its starting point guard while LaVine also struggles through a slow start after his own offseason knee surgery. The Bulls are 9-11 through the first quarter of Donovan’s third season and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Karnišovas hired Donovan in 2020 after a five-year stretch with the Oklahoma City Thunder, whom he led to a 243-157 record from 2015-20. Donovan got the Thunder to the Western Conference finals in his first season, but they didn’t advance past the first round the next four seasons.

Before entering the NBA, Donovan won two national championships during an illustrious 19-year career at Florida.

While Donovan has been coaching in college or the pros for 33 years, he hasn’t put an end date on his career. He said his enthusiasm in Chicago is driven by a sense of cohesion among himself, the players and the front office.

Until that enthusiasm runs out, Donovan hopes to remain on the sideline.

“I’ve never really put a timeline on it,” he said. “What I love is when you’re with a group of guys on the team and you’re trying to work toward a common goal and there’s a level of sacrifice that goes into doing that by everybody.

“If that goes, that’s when the the joy of the job gets totally changed. And I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had that.”



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