Entering the All-Star Break on the heels of their sixth-consecutive loss, the Chicago Bulls must regroup and finish strong during their final 23 games. Considering this team has significantly underperformed with a 26-33 record thus far after winning 46 games just last season, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has to be feeling the pressure as his team struggles to right the ship.
Donovan originally signed a four-year deal to coach the Bulls in the summer of 2020, and is halfway through his third season in Chicago now. Even if Donovan proves to not be the guy to lead this team to the promised land in the long run, it was assumed the problem would resolve itself when his contract expired at the end of next season.
And yet, the Bulls seem eager to shoot themselves in the foot at every given opportunity. The front office reportedly doubled down on their investment in Donovan after last year’s short-lived playoff appearance by offering him a secret contract extension in private and refusing to share the details with the public.
This offer serves to reward Billy Donovan for coaching the Bulls to their best season since 2015, which makes sense on paper, but actually feels like a terrible misstep considering Chicago completely collapsed in on itself and barely stumbled into the postseason. They’d go on to meet the Bucks, where Donovan and the Bulls would be thoroughly dismantled and steamrolled in five short games that weren’t all that competitive in the first place.
We weren’t fans of this decision at the time the news originally leaked, and we’re certainly not any keener on the decision now, but how long exactly are the Bulls obliged to Donovan now?
Billy Donovan is at risk of being fired due to the Chicago Bulls’ poor play, but his contract extension complicates things.
That’s the strangest thing about this whole situation, we just don’t know. Months have passed since the news was first leaked, and the front office has still never clarified the nature of Donovan’s extension. The lack of reporting on this issue is certainly concerning and suggests the organization has declined to comment (and asked reporters to refrain from investigating the truth).
This hush-hush deal is becoming the norm for the Bulls, as they’ve also failed to disclose the nature of Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine’s injury status on multiple occasions. Has anyone heard from Javonte Green, by the way?
Now that the Bulls are showing their true colors as a subpar basketball team with no real route back to championship contention, management has trapped this team in a room with their bad decisions and thrown away the key. Chicago cannot properly rebuild, since they’ve traded away so much of their future draft capital. They cannot contend because this team isn’t good enough. They cannot retool and mix the roster up, because the coach isn’t competent enough to lead a championship roster.
So where do we go from here?
For starters, we need Jerry Reinsdorf to bite the bullet and fire Donovan, even if it means paying him for years to come. If the Bulls fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy with Billy Donovan, there’s just no point in watching this team until someone better suited to developing talent internally is put in charge. This would be an uncharacteristically morally sound decision from Reinsdorf.
Fortunately, there is precedent here, considering Jim Boylen was fired just 16 months after signing a multi-year extension to coach this team. But even then, Boylen was statistically the worst coach in franchise history and it took a massive dip in attendance and merchandise sales to get him out of town.
That means if we truly want to see a light at the end of this tunnel for the Chicago Bulls, we as fans are once again going to have to put our money where our mouth is by staying home and refusing to buy merch. Or you know, we could always try another billboard.