Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder will mutually part ways after the 2019-20 season when his current contract expires, the team announced Tuesday evening.
And the Bulls, who are near the end of their first round of interviews for head coach, are "expected to have interest" in him, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:
On the surface, it makes complete sense. Donovan helmed the Thunder for the past five seasons and never coached to less than a .573 regular-season winning percentage. He's been to Game 7 of a conference finals (though teams of his haven't been out of the first round since 2016). He co-won the National Basketball Coach's Association Coach of the Year award along with Mike Budenholzer after the Thunder surprisingly won 44 of 72 regular-season games in 2019-20 and took the Houston Rockets to the final possession of Game 7 in the first round.
Not only does that make him one of two candidates on the Bulls' target list with head coaching experience (along with Kenny Atkinson), Donovan's done it at closer to the highest level than anyone in the Bulls' sphere.
According to a statement from Sam Presti, the Thunder's future direction — presumably, a full-blown rebuild — and Donovan's priorities weren't in alignment.
So would his priorities align with the Bulls? That remains to be seen. He's clearly near the front — if not at the front — of the most qualified names currently on the market. And one would assume the 2020-21 Bulls would be more competitive in the Eastern Conference than, hypothetically, the Thunder sans Chris Paul. They'd like to be, anyway.
But for the time being they're still in rebuild mode. Might Donovan be looking for something closer to a win-now opportunity? The New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and Rockets (should Mike D'Antoni depart) can all offer that.
Donovan is in the running for the Sixers' gig, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick.
And here's another Bulls ripple: While no Thunder coaching candidates have been reported yet, it stands to reason that, as a rebuilding club, the names they target could overlap with the Bulls' list, which is flush with qualified, longtime assistants in search of their first opportunity.
With voluntary group workouts for the eight teams excluded from the NBA's Disney World bubble just under two weeks away, the layers to the Bulls' coaching search continue to compound.