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Big-Time Head Coach Candidate Shoots Down Kentucky Rumors

Kentucky head coach John Calipari

Despite being connected to the Kentucky men’s basketball head coach vacancy, Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan denies that he’s been contacted by the powerhouse program.

Addressing the rumors, Donovan says, “I have not been contacted by anybody; I have not spoken to anybody” (per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times).

Billy Donovan Shoots Down Kentucky Rumors

“My whole total focus and commitment is here to this team and this group,” Donovan continues. “I think with what we’ve been through this year and the way we started… I give our guys a lot of credit for hanging in there and battling through some of the things they’ve had to battle through, and I’m with them on that. I’m committed to them on that.”

Since entering the NBA ranks, Donovan has been a potential candidate for multiple collegiate head coach vacancies. However, he’s consistently shut down the idea of returning to the NCAA. Asked what he would say to Kentucky if contacted, Donovan says:

‘‘I would still say the same thing I said: I’m committed to being here with this group and helping these guys close out this year the best we can and try to get the home court in the play-in and try to advance.’’

Several high-powered college coaches have decried the side effects of NIL deals. Nonetheless, Donovan isn’t mystified by college athletes getting paid. His desire to remain in the NBA isn’t tied to divisive topics like NIL deals or the transfer portal. At least not primarily.

 ‘‘[But] at a time where [players] are getting paid — and I’ve always been a big advocate of that and think that should have happened a long time ago — when these guys are fortunate to come up to this level, they don’t pick and choose which team they go to. They’ve got to go and earn a contract and fulfill that.’’

Nonetheless, his comments were a bit of a head-scratcher. To Donovan, there isn’t a parallel between college athletes earning contracts and the NBA. To his point, college prospects and lesser talented players often have no say in where they’re playing. Yet, free agents —particularly marquee free agents— may have their pick of the litter.

‘Hail Mary Hire’

According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Donovan is the “one name that looms over all.”

“He is the Hail Mary hire,” Thamel says. “He is the home run hire and he is who Kentucky is going to make say no.”

Donovan is under contract for two more years with the Bulls. As a result, he has to be bought out of his contract with Chicago to take the Kentucky job. However, “the Bulls historically haven’t denied those employees under contract to pursue opportunities they want to [but] that step hadn’t been asked as of early Monday,” per NBC Sports Chicago insider K.C. Johnson.


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