New coach Donovan sold on Bulls after long meeting with front office

Sam Amico

Chicago Bulls chief of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas couldn't hide his excitement after hiring Billy Donovan as head coach.

‘‘I could not stop smiling from the moment we agreed on a deal.’’ Karnisovas told reporters.

It will be Donovan's task to take a Bulls roster that features players such as Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkenan, Coby White and others and turn it into something resembling success.

No one thought Donovan could do it this past season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But they ended up making an inspiring run to the playoffs despite trading away stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George before the season.

So the front office of Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley are likely hoping Donovan can work the same magic in his running with the Bulls.

‘‘When we sat down and talked about the roster, I thought that this roster is [more] talented than what they showed the last two years,’’ Karnisovas said. ‘‘We have a lot — from [draft] picks to cap space in the future — to build this team. So I think there was a lot of optimism.

‘‘Looking at the roster, we spent a lot of time talking to Billy about offense, about defense, about the way he values relationships and how he rallies players around him and how he gets a buy-in from them. . . . So it was an easy decision to land on Billy.’’

The Bulls own the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft. Along with that, they do feel they were making some strides under former coach Jim Boylen. But the Donovan hire was clearly done with the purpose to push them forward even further.

"So [Karnisovas] and Marc came in on Monday, and we probably shared 50 hours together in person,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I think all the things [they] said, I really valued and were really important to me.

‘‘The conversations we had was really important to me because I wanted be in a situation where everybody is rowing the boat in the same direction, everybody is pulling together, everybody is working for the same cause, there’s a lot of really good dialogue and communication.

‘‘I think as a coach, you are a part of it. You’re a part of it all the way through, from top to bottom, and I think Arturas was looking for that, looking to partner with somebody as a coach to try and continue to develop and build the program.’’