Billy Donovan obviously can’t---and didn't---comment on the Chicago Bulls’ potential pursuit of Russell Westbrook should the current Utah Jazz guard enter the buyout market.
But Donovan, who coached Westbrook for four seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, repeated his common theme when discussing the player who owns the most triple-doubles in NBA history at 198.
“I’ve always said this: It was an unbelievable respect on my part from the standpoint that whenever there was a game, you knew he was always ready to play. And he’s a great competitor. And he loves competing. He plays with great energy and great passion,” Donovan said. “Like I’ve said before, you go into a locker room before a game and you’re not worried about whether or not he’s ready to play. Every game.”
The Bulls’ interest in Westbrook is legitimate should he land on the buyout market. Patrick Beverley and John Wall, who have already landed on that market, also are players to monitor.
“Like I’ve said before with Artūras Karnišovas and Marc (Eversley) and the front office, they’re always going to try to look at different ways to help our team get better,” Donovan said. “At whatever point they get ready or feel like they’re going to be close to wanting to make a decision, generally they’ll sit down and talk with me and get my opinions and thoughts on it.”
The Bulls added Tristan Thompson in the buyout market last season. Thompson averaged 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes over 23 games.
Donovan was asked about the acclimation process for adding a player via the buyout market.
“I think it does take some time,” Donovan said. “A veteran guy for the most part has seen about as much as they’re going to possibly see. You’re not going to necessarily throw anything new at them schematically that they haven’t already seen. But the bigger issue is how does a guy come in and make the group better? And a lot of times in order to do that, you gotta play with the guys over a period of time to get comfortable with them.”