With just over two weeks until COVID-19 testing for voluntary group workouts at the Advocate Center begins on Sept. 14, the Bulls have begun speaking to potential candidates for head coach.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Monday night that the Bulls have obtained permission to interview, and are talking to, a trove of assistant coaches around the league for the position: Darvin Ham (Milwaukee Bucks), Wes Unseld Jr. (Denver Nuggets), Dan Craig (Miami Heat), Jamahl Mosley (Dallas Mavericks), Stephen Silas (Dallas Mavericks), Ime Udoka (Philadelphia 76ers) and David Vanterpool (Minnesota Timberwolves). Kenny Atkinson, a free agent, is also part of the interview process.
Assistant coach Chris Fleming will also draw consideration for the job or a role on the new staff, a source told NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. Fleming worked with Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas in Denver, and there’s a trust factor between the two. Wojnarowski added that fellow Bulls assistant Roy Rogers could also draw a meeting. Fleming and Rogers were both installed before last season as part of Jim Boylen's staff.
Ham, Unseld and Craig are all employed by teams currently alive in the NBA playoffs. Craig’s Heat currently lead Ham’s Bucks 1-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, while Unseld and the Nuggets are staring down a Game 7 with the Utah Jazz Tuesday.
Johnson has previously confirmed Atkinson, Ham, Unseld, Silas, Udoka and Vanterpool as candidates for the position. Mosley and Craig, though, are new names to enter the fold.
Mosley just wrapped his fifth season as an assistant on Rick Carlisle’s staff in Dallas, where he’s coached Summer League the past three years and is described as the team's “defensive coordinator, in charge of planning the defense’s strategy for every game” in his web biography. Before joining the Mavericks in 2014, he spent four seasons an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers and five seasons with the Nuggets in roles in scouting, player development and as an assistant coach. He interviewed for the New York Knicks opening in June.
Craig is in his 17th season with the Heat, where he's worked his way up from video intern to video coordinator to player development coach to assistant coach. He won G League Coach of the Year leading the Sioux Falls Skyforce to a 40-10 record in 2015-16.
On the night of the draft lottery, Karnišovas said the Bulls had started the search for their next head coach, but hadn’t yet conducted any interviews.
That’s changed. And, notably, the search for the 24th coach in franchise history — and Karnišovas' first as executive vice president — will feature a wide range of external candidates.
K.C. Johnson contributed to this report