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Ex-Wizards coach Unseld joins Bulls' coaching staff

Scott Taetsch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Former Washington Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. is joining the Chicago Bulls' coaching staff as Billy Donovan's lead assistant, the Bulls confirmed Saturday to NBC Sports' K.C. Johnson.

Unseld, the son of the late Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld Sr., took over Washington's head coaching role in 2021 after working as an assistant around the NBA for 15 years. He split 12 seasons behind the Wizards' and Denver Nuggets' benches and became Michael Malone's associate head coach in his last campaign with the latter club in 2020-21. Unseld will reunite in Chicago with top executive Arturas Karnisovas, previously the Nuggets' general manager.

Unseld's head coaching debut didn't go as planned in D.C. After back-to-back 35-47 campaigns followed by a 7-36 start to 2023-24, the Wizards removed Unseld from his post and transitioned him to a front-office advisory position. Brian Keefe replaced Unseld, and the interim coach went 8-31 over the season's second half as Washington missed the playoffs for a third straight campaign and fifth time in six years.

Similar to the Wizards after they traded Bradley Beal, the Bulls are in a state of uncertainty after a second consecutive play-in tournament exit. Chicago's last postseason appearance came in 2022 when it won one game in a first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. It's also the club's only postseason play under Donovan, who arrived in 2020.

Chicago's core could be set for massive changes. Leading scorer DeMar DeRozan is set to become an unrestricted free agent on June 30 but has said he'd be happy to return to Chicago. Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic have only two guaranteed years remaining on their contracts. However, LaVine holds a $48.9-million player option for the 2026-27 campaign.

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