Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic breaks silence on Billy Donovan incident

The Chicago Bulls’ 2023-24 NBA season has hardly begun, but the squad has already reached mid-season form in terms of drama and battling. In the team’s 124-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on opening night, star center Nikola Vucevic and head coach Billy Donovan got into it on the bench, and the Bulls had a heated, players-only meeting in the locker room after the game.

The Thunder took an 81-78 lead near the end of the third quarter after scoring an uncontested layup. Vucevic then tossed the ball toward the hoop stanchion, getting a technical foul. When Donovan replaced him, the two had a lively conversation on the bench.

Following the loss, Chicago Tribune beat reporter Julia Poe stated that the team summoned a players-only meeting and asked Donovan to leave.


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“Billy Donovan says when he walked into the Bulls locker room tonight, players were already in heated conversations,” Poe wrote on his Twitter account. “He inquired whether they wanted him to leave to deal with the conflict. Players agreed, so he did. Donovan stressed the importance of embracing conflict for this year’s roster.”

Following that, Nikola Vucevic, the two-time All-Star who hasn’t lived up to expectations since being acquired by the Bulls in 2021, dismissed the occurrences.

On the Donovan conflict, Vucevic told reports, “Just not happy with normal certain stuff that we’re doing, and I just expressed it a little maybe more aggressive than I should have in the moment of the game.”

“A lot of guys said a lot of good things, things that needed to be said,” the big man said of the Bulls’ players-only meeting. I believe we can use this to learn and alter some things that need to be changed. There was no craziness, fighting, or anything else. It was quite beneficial. It was possibly one of the first times this had happened since I’d arrived. And it was much needed.”

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