Billy Donovan’s vision is taking shape.
The Bulls are hiring Milwaukee Bucks assistant Josh Longstaff to a spot on their new head coach’s staff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday morning.
Longstaff’s NBA experience dates back to 2010, when he was hired as a player personnel coordinator with the Oklahoma City Thunder. There, he ascended to video coordinator, player development coach and finally video analyst before accepting a player development coaching gig with the New York Knicks before the 2014-15 season. He was promoted to an assistant coach role with the Knicks for the 2015-16 campaign.
Longstaff then accrued true head coaching experience with the Erie BayHawks, at the time the Atlanta Hawks’ G League affiliate, during the 2017-18 season. He led the BayHawks to a 28-22 regular season record and an Eastern Conference finals berth, where they fell to Raptors 905.
He’s served the past two years on Mike Budenholzer’s staff in Milwaukee. As Wojnarowski notes, this will be Longstaff’s first NBA “front-of-the-bench” assistant role in the league.
A Portland, Maine native, Longstaff was also an accomplished high school basketball player, winning a state championship with Portland High School in 1998 and twice leading his league in assists. He played sporadically over the course of a four-year career at Bryant University — a “hard-working point guard,” per Bryant’s website. He got his start coaching at the high school level before being tapped up by the Thunder.
In October, Donovan cut ties with four holdover assistants in Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, Nate Loenser and Karen Stack-Umlauf. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Oct. 28 that former Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach John Bryant accepted a post with the Bulls, though his exact title is not yet clear.
In the below clip put out by the NBCA, Longstaff discusses his basketball origins, player development philosophy and coaching mentors — on the last front, listing Brian Keefe, Sam Presti, Derek Fisher, Scott Brooks, Jeff Hornacek, Mike Budenholzer and Jeff Van Gundy.
“It’s all about the players. It’s all about them improving one day at a time. It’s all about us as coaches improving one day at a time," Longstaff says to open the video. "Just making sure the players understand they come first, they’re the most important thing. Without them, there isn’t us."
Combined with his player development experience, that sounds well in line with the player-first environment Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversley have been so adamant about cultivating in Chicago.