So About that Billy Donovan Extension, Phil Jackson Speaks, and Other Bulls Bullets

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So About that Billy Donovan Extension, Phil Jackson Speaks, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Nick Nurse.

Mike Budenholzer.

Monty Williams.

Three of the NBA’s most well-respected coaches have gotten the boot from their franchises this offseason.

  • Nurse and Budenholzer make up two of the last four championship-winning coaches. Meanwhile, Monty Williams made the NBA Finals just two seasons ago. Add in the fact that Frank Vogel also got kicked to the curb last summer after winning the 2019-20 title, and the NBA has shown just how ruthless it can be. All that matters to the front office is what someone has done for them lately, as the championship-or-bust mentality continues to sweep through the league.
  • The Williams firing, in particular, comes as a massive surprise. It was just his fourth season with the organization, and he held a cumulative record of 194-115 as the leading man. While the team under-achieved in back-to-back postseasons – losing their elimination games in brutal blowout fashion – we’re also talking about a Suns squad that went to the Finals in 2019-20 and held the NBA’s best record last season at 64-18!
  • By letting Williams go and trading for Kevin Durant at the deadline, new owner Mat Ishbia is clearly trying to make his presence felt from the jump. But whether or not this latest decision will prove to be the right one is undoubtedly a fair question. Williams’ record spoke for itself. He was considered one of the best head coaches in the game. Blaming him for the team’s postseason struggles seems a bit … well … bogus.
  • Last year, the Suns lost to one of the best players in the game Luka Doncic. This year, they lost to two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. Not to mention, it was Ishbia and the front office that decided to completely eliminate all the team’s depth to acquire Durant mid-season. That isn’t to say acquiring a talent like Durant isn’t the right move, but firing your head coach for not instantly winning a championship with him a few months later feels really unfair.
  • Anyway, it’s hard not to think about Billy Donovan’s secret contract extension in the wake of all these firings. Not only are there some really high-level coaches now on the free-agent market, but why did the Bulls consider Donovan’s job safe while all these other much more competitive franchises did the opposite?

  • As I’ve done each time I write about this, I want to stress the following: I don’t think Donovan should be fired right now. While he’s not void of criticism, he’s gotten a little too much flack for the Bulls’ regression. The front office deserves far more of the blame for the roster construction. If anything, Donovan should probably get praise for helping shockingly turn this group into a top-5 defense. With that said, I’m still unsure what he did to warrant a contract extension. A five-game exit in the postseason is good enough? If the Bulls are trying to establish a consistent winning product, how can they reward a head coach for making the playoffs once?
  • Oh, and remember, Donovan wasn’t the only one to receive an extension!

  • Speaking of coaching, the 11x champion head coach Phil Jackson recently joined Stacey King on an episode of the Gimme the Hot Sauce Podcast. As someone who rarely gets in front of a microphone, it was interesting to hear him talk a bit about the modern NBA. But, of course, it was most interesting to hear him talk about his days with one of the most iconic basketball teams known to man.
  • Indeed, part of that conversation included a discussion about The Last Dance season and the documentary. Asked about whether he enjoyed the series, Jackson called it “fascinating” but did confirm that he believed some players should have received more love.

“It did omit people,” Jackson said. “Ronnie Harper didn’t get as much credit because Steve Kerr is a known entity – he got a lot of credit in the 7th game versus Indiana that year, whereas Toni Kukoc was really the outstanding player. People forget Toni was starting and Dennis Rodman was coming off the bench in the last two series in that last dance year. So there are somethings that get lost in the process. And a lot of it was Michael and Michael’s version of what went on. But it was fascinating, and I think it was good for the public to see it. And it was good for basketball.”

  • Jackson also touched on the GOAT debate. His pick should come as no surprise …

“It’s a funny thing. You can’t take anything away from either players. They’re absolutely terrific players. You can only turn to the fact that Michael went to the Finals six times and won six championships. And there’s something that’s kind of funny, seventh games. How many seven games did Michael have to go through? He never did. We won in six games at the most.”

  • How can you not like Steph Curry?

  • The WNBA is back and better than ever!

  • First dub in Canada!

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.