The coaching staff for new Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan started to take shape Monday afternoon, with the team reportedly adding a pair of assistant coaches to join him on the bench.
The Bulls are expected to hire Maurice Cheeks, who had been Donovan’s assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2015, according to the Athletic, and Josh Longstaff, who spent the last two years as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to ESPN.
The two are expected to join former Philadelphia 76ers assistant John Bryant, who the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week is also taking a job with the Bulls, although his exact title is unknown. Chris Fleming, who was the lead assistant under Jim Boylen, still currently remains on the staff after the Bulls fired the rest of Boylen’s assistants last month.
Cheeks, who was born in Chicago and attended Du Sable High School, played for 15 seasons in the NBA before three different stints as a head coach in Portland, Philadelphia and Detroit. He has been with Donovan since 2015 as his right-hand man, so he was connected to the Bulls almost immediately after they hired Donovan.
Cheeks brings instant credibility and experience to the bench, and can help young point guards like Coby White develop.
For Longstaff, this promotion will give him a “front-of-the-bench” role after spending the past two seasons with Milwaukee under Mike Budenholzer. He has been in the NBA since 2010, when he started as a player personnel coordinator with the Thunder before eventually taking over as video coordinator, player development coach and video analyst. He spent two seasons with the New York Knicks as a player development coach and then an assistant coach from 2014-16, and then as a head coach with the Atlanta Hawks’ G League affiliate in 2017-18.
Player development has been a key focus point of the Bulls’ new front office since Arturas Karnisovas took over in April, and adding Longstaff to the team seems to align with that goal.
“It’s all about the players,” Longstaff said in a video by the National Basketball Coaches Association. “It’s all about them improving one day at at time, it’s about us as coaches improving one day at a time. That’s something I learned right off in Oklahoma City and I’ve tried to carry that with myself… and just making sure that the players understand that they come first. They’re the most important thing and without them, there isn’t us.”
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