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Bulls’ Billy Donovan thankful he has had a distraction-free NBA career

While 76ers coach Doc Rivers is stuck discussing Ben Simmons on an almost-daily basis, Donovan has been able to stay relatively distraction-free since coming to the NBA. He’s all for keeping it that way.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan yells to his team during the first half of Wednesday’s game against the 76ers.
Bulls head coach Billy Donovan yells to his team during the first half of Wednesday’s game against the 76ers.
Matt Slocum/AP

PHILADELPHIA — Doc Rivers was in an all-too familiar spot on Wednesday.

Rather than discussing the matchup with the Bulls in-depth in his pregame media session, the 76ers coach was answering more questions about Ben Simmons.

The latest report had Simmons refusing internal help from the organization to assess his mental readiness to play, instead doing it through the NBA to make sure that he can still collect his salary while staying away from the organization.

Asked if he has reached the point where enough was enough with Simmons, Rivers replied, “I don’t think about it. I honestly don’t. I coach the guys that are on the floor every day, that’s what I focus on, and we’ve done pretty well with that.’’

Minutes later, Bulls coach Billy Donovan met with the media, talking defense, Tony Bradley and how much fun his team was having. He was completely distraction-free.

Admittedly, Donovan is in Year 7 of his NBA coaching career, and has kept his hands relatively distraction-free when it comes to the everyday drama that many teams go through.

Even back in his first season with Oklahoma City, when star Kevin Durant was heading into free agency, Donovan said that drama never came his way or into the locker room where players had to deal with it on a daily basis.

“First of all it was my first year in the NBA, so I had a lot to learn, and I was going through a lot myself,’’ Donovan recalled of that season. “I really appreciated the way Kevin handled the whole situation. Obviously he was a grown man at the time, it was going to be his decision at the end of the year. I knew that I was necessarily not going to be involved in that situation just because I had just gotten there . . . but I always felt like he kept that away from our team.’’

Bradley talk

It didn’t take Bradley long to do what he does for the Bulls on Tuesday — bring the energy.

In the opening minutes of the second quarter, he not only made life tough on Andre Drummond on the defensive end but then jumped out of bounds to save a ball that led to DeMar DeRozan free throws.

Definitely a player that Rivers and the 76ers missed, after he played 20 games for them last season.

“He was one of our favorites last year,’’ Rivers said. “I think it takes a lot of players, and sometimes they never figure it out, what they can do in their role. If they can buy into that and do it great they can have a long career. We try and explain that to all our players. There’s the one-percenters and the 99-percenters, and the problem is the 99-percenters want to be one-percenters. And a lot of them waste their career chasing that instead of having a helluva career being in that 99 percent, and Tony is just a pro, man.’’

The way Donovan sees it, Philadelphia’s loss has been a big gain for the Bulls’ bench.

“He’s got a good feel how to play, he’s smart,’’ Donovan said of Bradley. “Brings energy, and that’s what we really need from that second unit is energy.’’

Home sweet home?

The Bulls will have their first three-game homestand of the season starting on Saturday, but it isn’t exactly a fun one.

They welcome the Sixers in for the back end of a home-and-home, then Brooklyn and Dallas.