Donovan begins staff overhaul, lets go of multiple assistants

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Bulls remain serious about making changes.

Billy Donovan called multiple assistant coaches Monday morning and informed them they won't serve on his first staff as Bulls coach, sources first told NBC Sports Chicago. The team later officially announced the news in a release.

Gone are Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, Nate Loenser and Karen Stack Umlauf. The Bulls just picked up an option for the 2020-21 season on Loenser's contract, and Rogers had just finished the first of a three-year deal.

Stack Umlauf, who previously served as senior director of basketball operations before joining the staff, has been an organizational fixture since Jerry Krause brought her in as one of his first hires. When the Bulls picked up Loenser's option despite then-head coach Jim Boylen's uncertain future, Loenser's developmental skills and standing with the players were cited internally as reasons. Loenser, hired by Fred Hoiberg, is well-respected by players, particularly Zach LaVine, who worked closely with him.

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Ownership continues to give the green light to the new regime to make changes, no matter the cost.

"I would like to thank Dean, Nate, Roy and Karen for their contributions and dedication to our organization," executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said in a statement. "Decisions like these are never easy, and I wish them well in the future."

As previously reported, Chris Fleming, who served as Jim Boylen's lead assistant coach, worked with Karnišovas in Denver and is valued internally. He recently ran the Bulls' "bubble" as part of their three weeks of voluntary group workouts and remains on staff.


"I appreciate the time I was able to spend with Dean, Nate, Roy and Karen," Donovan said in a statement. "I really want to thank all of them for their service and commitment to the Chicago Bulls. This is the tough side to our business, and I wish all of them the best moving forward."

It's unknown if Fleming will return as the lead assistant coach. Donovan has longstanding ties to plenty of assistant coaches from his five-year run as the Thunder head coach, including Chicago native Maurice Cheeks.

“I think that’s something Artūras and I have been talking about and working on," Donovan said during his introductory news conference about the staff. "Obviously, there are staff members there that are still with the Bulls. I also think the other piece of it too with our staff is how do we build out the best staff that I can work with, they can work with me, work with Artūras. So that’s something we’re certainly going to look at from top to bottom, not only maybe around the league but certainly the coaches that are in Chicago right now.

"I look forward to talking with those guys and having some conversations. Artūras will be part of that. We’ll work together on that. The biggest focus for us right now is how do we put together the best group that we can put together to help the players.”