Former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan was one of the top reported candidates in Philadelphia 76ers’ search to replace Brett Brown, but now he’s off the market. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Donovan, who decided to part ways with the Thunder after their season finished, has now agreed to a deal with the Chicago Bulls.
Billy Donovan has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of the Chicago Bulls, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 22, 2020
Donovan was part of the Sixers’ short list of head coach candidates. Along with former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue, Donovan was one of the candidates who was “strongly vying for and interested in the position,” according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Donovan agreeing to a deal with the Bulls also means that Sixers assistant Ime Udoka has missed out, as he’d been rumored as a “frontrunner” for the job for some time.
Even though Udoka is staying put (unless he gets in the mix for an opening somewhere else), it seems fairly unlikely another candidate will emerge and suddenly move to the front in the Sixers’ head coach search.
For now, it looks like it’s coming down to D’Antoni and Lue.
Both have their strengths and weaknesses for this role, and opinions surrounding the two often seem fairly divided among Philly fans. As successful and creative as D’Antoni has been with his offenses through his career, the up-tempo, three-point heavy systems he’s often found success with hardly fit the Sixers’ roster as currently constructed. That said, he’d certainly be a good candidate to shake up the Sixers’ offense and implement more pick-and-roll usage if they’re able to add a new ball handler and possibly trade Al Horford to smooth out some of their fit concerns.
Meanwhile, Lue is known for how he can handle stars effectively, and he has tactical knowledge at both ends of the floor that can be underrated at times — in terms of both his creativity and willingness to adjust and experiment, in an in-game and game-to-game basis. Just because he had LeBron James on his team in Cleveland it doesn’t mean he can’t coach. He’d be a strong hire for the Sixers.
We’ll likely hear more about D’Antoni and Lue in the coming days as the Sixers’ interviews progress.