Bulls Add Maurice Cheeks and John Longstaff as Billy Donovan’s Assistant Coaches

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  • The Chicago Bulls have hired Maurice Cheeks and John Longstaff as assistant coaches.
  • Former Bucks assistant Longstaff has strong player development experience
  • Cheeks was Billy Donovan’s chief assistant in Oklahoma City.

The Chicago Bulls gave Billy Donovan the free hand to pick his coaching team when they hired him as head coach in September.

Last month, Donovan fired four Bulls assistant coaches in Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, Nate Loesner, and Karen Stack-Umlauf while retaining Chris Fleming who was Jim Boylen’s lead assistant coach last season. Then last week, the Bulls made their first hire by taking in Brett Brown’s Sixers assistant John Bryant.

Then on Monday, Donovan’s coaching staff began to take shape with the hiring of John Longstaff and Maurice Cheeks as assistant coaches.

Strong Player Development Experience

Longstaff has been in the NBA since 2010 although he has mostly been working behind the scenes. His first job in the league was as a personnel coordinator with the OKC Thunder, Longstaff then ascended to becoming a video coordinator, player development coach, and video analyst. Just before the 2014-15 season, he accepted a player development coaching job with the New York Knicks. In 2016, Longstaff was promoted to assistant coach.

During the 2017-18 season, Longstaff was the head coach of the Erie Bayhawks, the G League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks at that time. He led the Bayhawks to a 28-22 regular season record and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Raptors 905. Longstaff spent the last two NBA seasons as an assistant coach under Mike Budenholzer.

With his strong experience in player development, Longstaff was a good choice for the Bulls whose front office executives Arturas Karnisovas and Mark Eversley are adamant about developing a player-first culture.

A Homecoming for Mo Cheeks

Cheeks was born in Chicago and attended Du Sable High School so going to Chicago is a homecoming for him. During his playing days, Cheeks was a four-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-Defensive Team selection. He was a key player in the Sixers’ 1982-83 championship team and is regarded as one of the best defensive guards in the history of the NBA. The former Sixers guard was inducted to the Naismith Hall of Fame as a player in 2018.

He began his coaching career as an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 90s. His first coaching gig was in Portland where he amassed a record of 162-139 or a .538 winning percentage during the regular season. From 2005-08, Cheeks became head coach of the Sixers and compiled a record of 122-147 or a .454 winning percentage. He also coached the Pistons for 50 games during the 2013-14 season before joining Donovan’s coaching staff in OKC in 2015.

As it stands, Cheeks is the third assistant in Donovan’s Chicago staff and is the most notable addition so far. Not only is Cheeks and experienced NBA head coach, Hall of Famer, and former NBA champion, he can help Chicago’s young point guards like Coby White, Kris Dunn, and Tomas Satoransky.

Powerhouse Coaching Staff

The trend this offseason has been hiring powerhouse coaching staffs. The Clippers hired former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson as Tyron Lue’s chief assistant. L.A. also adding former Pistons champion Chauncey Billups to their bench. Most recently, the Brooklyn Nets added Amar’e Stoudemire and Mike D’Antoni to Steve Nash’s coaching team.

Chicago has a young and talented team led by Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. Chandler Hutchison, and Coby White. They also have quality veteran players like Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Young, Kris Dunn, and Denzel Valentine. Chicago will also pick 4th in this month’s 2020 NBA Draft and if you look at the odds boards, they could get either Anthony Edwards (-175), LaMelo Ball (+100), James Weisman (+750), or Deni Avdija (+2000) who are the Top 4 draft prospects right now.

The Bulls are tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the 7th best odds to win the Eastern Conference next season at +3300. They finished the 2019-20 season with a 22-43 record, 7th worst in the league. Boylen posted a 39-84 record with the Bulls in two seasons as head coach. Given Billy Donovan’s experience, winning record, and the clean slate that they’ve given him, Chicago hopes to return to the playoff picture next season.

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