5 best candidates to replace Billy Donovan as Bulls’ head coach

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Kenny Atkinson, Chicago Bulls Head Coach Candidates
Kenny Atkinson, Chicago Bulls Head Coach Candidates (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

2. Kenny Atkinson

Among all the options the Chicago Bulls may potentially have at their disposal if they part ways with Donovan, former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson could be my favorite of the bunch.

After seven seasons as an assistant in New York and Atlanta, Atkinson served three and a half years as head coach for the Nets. His leadership helped Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, and Caris LeVert thrive, and he helped drive Brooklyn to their first playoff appearance since 2015.

Although his 118-190 record as the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach is nothing to write home about, Atkinson’s reputation as a quality coach precedes him. In fact, Atkinson was rumored to be one of the driving factors in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s decisions to sign with Brooklyn in 2019.

Hiring Kenny Atkinson would address the Chicago Bulls’ inability to develop their talent.

Since departing Brooklyn, Atkinson has been highly sought after as an assistant and has spent the last three seasons with the Clippers and Warriors. Atkinson is known to specialize in player development, making him an indispensable asset for these teams with so much young talent.

If the Chicago Bulls were able to coax Atkinson to take the mantle, it would be interesting to see if his presence could help Patrick Williams finally unlock that next level he’s been searching for. Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, and Dalen Terry could also stand to significantly benefit by having a coach who is more concerned with their personal progress than he is with winning games right now.

Of course, hiring Atkinson would also likely be an admittance of failure on AKME’s part, essentially declaring that this core is not good enough to win as currently constructed. Hiring Atkinson would also likely signal an intention to trade DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, and potentially even Zach LaVine. For that reason, I’m not sure how realistic this hiring may be, even if it’s a sound decision on paper.