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Friday, October 23, 2020

New Chicago Bulls Head Coach Billy Donovan Does Some Staff Housecleaning

The 2019-20 NBA season finally came to an end on Sunday night, with the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals. Monday morning, new Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan got to work on some staff housecleaning.

The Bulls announced Monday that Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, Nate Loenser and Karen Stack Umlauf are goners. Lead assistant Chris Fleming wasn’t a part of this purge. It’s unknown if Fleming will stick around as Donovan’s lead assistant, but he has a prior relationship with Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and just ran the team’s three-week minicamp.

Rogers still had two years left on a three-year deal, while Loenser previously had his 2020-21 option picked up when Jim Boylen was still the head coach. Stack Umlauf joined the organization way back in 1985 when Jerry Krause was hired. She became the franchise’s first female coach in 2018 when she was named as an associate coach for the Summer League team.

While Fleming’s status may be up in the air, these firings seem to show that Donovan is being empowered to build his own coaching staff, which makes sense given his status. It’s still notable that Bulls ownership continues to spend what’s necessary after luring Karnisovas from the Denver Nuggets. Donovan is getting over $6 million a year to be the head coach, and now the Bulls are eating money with these moves before hiring new coaches to replace them. Chicago also recently hired a new head trainer in Todd Campbell.

There are already rumblings that Donovan may look to bring over Chicago native Maurice Cheeks from Oklahoma City. Donovan brought Cheeks aboard his coaching staff when he was hired by the Thunder in 2015. Cheeks also has head coaching experience, so he likely wouldn’t come cheap.

Interestingly enough, Jerry Reinsdorf’s other team, the Chicago White Sox, also made some drastic coaching moves on Monday. The White Sox fired manager Rick Renteria and longtime pitching coach Don Cooper, signaling a similar willingness as the Bulls to do what’s needed to take a step forward as a franchise. Perhaps this is truly a new era in Reinsdorf ownership, with Michael Reinsdorf playing a key role in decision-making.

Bulls fans are certainly hoping this is a new era of spending from ownership. Despite being in the third-largest market in the country, the Bulls haven’t exactly been run like a big-market club. The recent moves by this organization have been a breath of fresh air.

Now, it’s time to wait and see what comes next for the NBA. Chicago has the No. 4 pick in a 2020 NBA Draft that’s scheduled for Nov. 18, but it’s unclear when free agency is going to start. While the hope is for around Dec. 1, there’s still a lot to be figured out when it comes to the collective bargaining agreement and all the finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After that, Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18) is reportedly a candidate for the start of next season, but the talks are fluid.

Just like every other team, the Bulls are anxious for more clarity as they plan for this offseason and beyond.

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