OKC Thunder: Donovan finds a new coaching home in Chicago

Thunder coach Billy Donovan motions to his team during Oklahoma City's Game 6 Western Conference finals loss to Golden State on May 28, 2016.

Even by choice, Billy Donovan will not be unemployed very long.

Donovan, who spent five seasons as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and who mutually parted ways with the organization almost two weeks ago, has agreed to become the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported early Tuesday evening.

Minutes later, Donovan's move was confirmed by The Athletic's Darnell Mayberry, who covers the Bulls and about an hour after that, the Bulls themselves confirmed, too, tweeting from the organization's official account, "Welcome our new head coach, Billy Donovan!"

Donovan compiled a regular-season mark of 243-157 over his five OKC seasons, reaching the playoffs each year.

In his first campaign, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook still playing together, the Thunder finished a victory short of reaching the NBA Finals, falling after leading Golden State 3-1 in the Western Conference finals.

In each of the next four seasons, OKC was bounced in the postseason’s first round.

Donovan will replace Jim Boylen, who led the Bulls the final 75 games of the 2018-19 season and the length of the shortened 2019-20 season. Boylen exited the Windy City with a 39-84 record, failing to reach the playoffs both seasons.

According to Wojnarowski, Chicago vice president of basketball relations Arturas Karnisovas “aggressively pursued Donovan in the aftermath of Donovan leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder.”

In a vote by the league’s coaches, Donovan was awarded co-coach of the year honors for his work with the Thunder this season.

Prior to coming to Oklahoma City, Donovan coached the University of Florida men for 19 seasons, reaching the Elite Eight six times, the Final Four three times and twice winning the national championship, in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

The post Donovan vacated remains open, with no clues toward who might eventually fill it.

Speaking to media the evening of Sept. 8, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said he did not have a timetable connected to a coaching search, nor did he knew if roster decisions would have to be made before or after that search concludes.

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