Bulls Rumors: Wes Unseld Jr. to Join Billy Donovan’s Staff After Stint as Wizards HC

Bulls Rumors: Wes Unseld Jr. to Join Billy Donovan’s Staff After Stint as Wizards HC
zach bacharContributor IMay 18, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24: Wes Unseld Jr. of the Washington Wizards looks on during the first half of a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Capital One Arena on January 24, 2024 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls have hired former Washington Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. as the top assistant on Billy Donovan’s staff, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Unseld served as head coach of the Wizards from 2021 until the middle of the 2023-24 season, when he was removed from the role and transitioned to a front-office position with the team after Washington got off to a 7-36 start.

Before his stint with the Wizards, Unseld spent six years as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets.

He also spent time as an assistant for the Orlando Magic and the Golden State Warriors as well as a previous stop with the Wizards from 2005 through 2011.

While Unseld doesn’t have many prior ties to Donovan, he does have a connection with Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas. Before he joined Chicago in April 2020, Karnišovas was the general manager of the Nuggets during Unseld’s time with the organization.

When the Bulls were searching for a new head coach later that year, Unseld was a candidate for the opening before Donovan was eventually hired by the team. Karnišovas reportedly “thought highly of him” even though he wasn’t the team’s final choice, per Wojnarowski.

In Sep. 2020, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic discussed the Bulls’ interest in Unseld due to the prior relationships that were built in Denver.

“I’ve been kind of saying lately that Wes Unseld Jr., I think, if he’s not going to be the guy, I think he’s probably close to becoming that guy because of the relationship he has with Artūras, because he’s been the lead assistant in Denver for the last three years or so, he’s helped with that defense, he’s helped with some player development,” Mayberry said at the time (h/t Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago).

After Chicago’s win total decreased in each of the past three years, the front office might explore a head coaching change if the Bulls are unable to improve upon a 39-win season. If that occurs, Unseld may potentially find himself patrolling the sidelines once again.

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