Off to a disastrous 5-13 start to the season, the Chicago Bulls are already reaching the point where they'd rather search for a scapegoat than accept the reality of their destined fate to be a draft lottery team this season. For the players, it's clear they believe head coach Billy Donovan is to blame for Chicago's struggles. They aren't alone in this fight, however, as Billy is also attracting the ire of frustrated Bulls fans online searching for a stop to this team's losing ways.
A long string of incompetent head coaches in Chicago — not just on the Bulls, but their NFL, MLB, and NHL counterparts as well — has naturally cultivated a strong level of distrust in those in charge of the professional sports organizations in this city. When Donovan was first signed to become the Bulls head coach back in 2020, he was supposed to bring an end to this unlucky streak, but that has so far not been the case.
It shouldn't come as a particularly shocking surprise either, seeing as how Donovan squandered away a wealth of talent in Oklahoma City. Despite having a litany of future Hall of Famers on his Thunder teams such as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Chris Paul, Donovan's teams consistently underachieved until he was ran out of town. Even the 55-win team he inherited in 2016 during his first season in OKC only became progressively worse each season he was at the helm, as the team has yet to win another playoff series since then.
Of course, we've already seen the same transpire now that Donovan has entrenched himself as the Bulls' head coach. Despite a collection of three All-Star players, quality role players, and a few interesting prospects worth developing, the Bulls have only gotten worse and worse each season Donovan has been in charge.
His reward for all this? Firm job security, apparently. That's because Donovan has reportedly earned the trust of both the Bulls' ownership and front office, meaning he's likely to be a Chicago mainstay for years to come.
Despite his failures, Bulls' ownership has faith that Billy Donovan can still save this sinking ship.
It's been no secret that this Bulls roster has had a contentious relationship at times with their own head coach. Whether it be Zach LaVine holding a grudge over his benching due to poor performance back in 2022, or players-only meetings that specifically exclude Donovan, it's obvious that this team isn't on the same page as the person calling the shots.
And yet, it appears that Donovan's position within the franchise couldn't be any more secure. Here's what Bulls beat reporter K.C. Johnson had to say in his latest report regarding the job security of Donovan and Chicago's front office tandem.
"Typically in such circumstances, a coach may be on the hot seat or perhaps management could be in trouble. But with Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf’s history of employing Jerry Krause for 18 years and John Paxson for 17 until Paxson initiated his exit plan, not to mention Artūras Karnišovas’ contract extension, Karnišovas has been given the green light to try to fix the current mess.- K.C. Johnson
Same goes for Billy Donovan, who is liked and respected by both ownership and management and also has multiple years left on his extension. While it has happened in recent situations like Fred Hoiberg and Jim Boylen, the Reinsdorfs typically don’t like paying coaches not to work for them. So Donovan is safe, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his staff tweaked moving forward."
This level of faith both in Donovan and the front office duo of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley makes very little sense given the Bulls' struggles this season. I'll admit, Chicago's problems are far too plentiful for the blame to be placed solely at Donovan's feet; he doesn't deserve to be scapegoated. He isn't the problem. That being said, Billy is absolutely a part of the problem.
In spite of all his faults, even Jim Boylen wasn't able to lead the Bulls to this degree of dysfunctional underperformance. Donovan's Bulls have started the year off 5-13, which is even worse than Boylen's 6-12 start in 2019-20 — the same team that would go on to win a measly 22 games. That's right, Donovan has failed to even match the win rate of the worst head coach in franchise history, despite having a much more talented roster at his disposal.
If that doesn't help prove just how bad things are in Chicago right now, I'm not sure what could. From the looks of things, it looks like it's going to get worse before it gets better. This roster is clearly disinterested in competing and has lost all faith in their head coach. For us fans, this situation is extremely frustrating. In the eyes of Jerry Reinsdorf, however, it appears to be considered a job well done.