The Bulls officially announced Jim Boylen as the 17th head coach of the team’s franchise on Monday. Boylen has made a number of stops during his basketball career, most recently an assistant under Gregg Popovich before Hoiberg hired him in 2015.
That Boylen, a defensive-minded coach, stems from the Popovich coaching tree is certainly good news for the Bulls. Though it in no way guarantees success, there’s a long line of successful NBA head coaches who at one point in time were under the guidance of Popovich in one form or another.
Mike Budenholzer, head coach, Milwaukee Bucks
One of the longest tenured assistants under Popovich, Budenholzer was on the Spurs’ staff from 1996 to 2013. That summer, he was named the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, where he coached them to a 2013-197 record over five seasons. That included a 60-win campaign in 2015, for which he was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. He was fired by Atlanta in 2018 but hired by the Milwaukee Bucks that same offseason. He has been outstanding in Year 1 with the Bucks, leading them to a 15-7 record.
Brett Brown, head coach, Philadelphia 76ers
It’s safe to say Brown did a pretty good job as the director of player development in San Antonio from 2002 to 2013. That made him the perfect candidate to take over a Philadelphia 76ers franchise that was rebuilding from the absolute ground up. Despite the ugly, ugly, ugly years in Philadelphia – Brown went 75-253 in his first four seasons – the Sixers knew what kind of a special coach they had in Brown. He’s led Philadelphia into their next phase; after a 52-win season a year ago, the Sixers are 17-8 in Year 6 under Brown.
James Borrego, head coach, Charlotte Hornets
Borrego actually had two stints under Popovich, once as an assistant from 2003 to 2010 and again from 2015 to 2018. This past offseason, he was hired by the Charlotte Hornets. Borrego was thought to be coming to a team that might be in the beginning phases of a rebuild, but he’s taken the Hornets and turned them into a playoff contender; they’re 11-12 and sitting in seventh place in the East.
Joe Prunty, assistant coach, Phoenix Suns
Prunty was an assistant for three of the Spurs’ championships from 1996 to 2005, and he made other stops as an assistant with Dallas, Portland, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Milwaukee. He took over for the fired Jason Kidd last season with the Bucks, going 21-16 down the stretch before losing to the Celtics in seven games of the Eastern Concerence Playoffs’ first round. The Bucks hired Mike Budenholzer this offseason, and Prunty latched on with the Suns this offseason.
Mike Brown, associate head coach, Golden State Warriors
Brown has had one of the wildest coaching rides in NBA history, from coaching on the Spurs’ title teams in the early 2000s to coaching LeBron James to taking over Cleveland again after James left to becoming an NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors. But it was in San Antonio, from 2000 to 2003 under Popovich, where he got his start.
Quin Snyder, head coach, Utah Jazz
Synder was the head coach of the Austin Toros (now the Austin Spurs), San Antonio’s G-League affiliate, from 2007 to 2010.
Earl Watson, former head coach, Phoenix Suns
It was a brief stint, but Watson’s NBA playing days ended with his hiring as an assistant for the Austin Spurs. From there, Watson was named an assistant in Phoenix and ultimately worked his way up to become the head coaching 2015. He lasted just 118 games before being fired early in the 2017-2018 season.
Dell Demps, general manager, New Orleans Pelicans
Maybe a stretch, but Demps played 16 games under Popovich during the 1995-96 season.
Jacque Vaughn, former head coach, Orlando Magic
Vaughn played his last three NBA seasons with the Spurs from 2006 to 2009 before becoming an assistant under Popovich from 2010 to 2012. From there he was hired as the head coach of the Orlando Magic, amassing a 58-158 record in three seasons before being fired. He’s currently an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets.
Steve Kerr, head coach, Golden State Warriors
Kerr was a point guard under Popovich with the Spurs from 1998 to 2001, and again for the 2002-03 season. He’s now doing quite well for himself as head coach of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Doc Rivers, head coach, LA Clippers
Rivers’ final 138 games in the NBA over two seasons were with the Spurs. He’d of course go on to become an NBA champion coaching the Boston Celtics and currently leads the L.A. Clippers.
Monty Williams, former head coach, New Orleans Pelicans
Williams played with the Spurs from 1996 to 1998. After stops with four other franchises he became an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers and was then hired in 2010 as the New Orleans Hornets (noe the Pelicans) head coach. He won 173 games in five seasons and is currently an assistant under Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers.