Shortly after the Bulls fired Fred Hoiberg and promoted Jim Boylen to head coach, Boylen said Chicago players weren’t in shape. Boylen has tried to fix that with lengthy and intense practices – including one scheduled for yesterday, the day after a back-to-back. But Bulls players rebelled with a threatened boycott then ultimately compromised on a team meeting in lieu of practice.
The details of that standoff are something.
When Boylen arrived Sunday, the players stood and told Boylen they weren’t practicing, sources said, with the sides meeting to express their issues. Zach LaVine and Justin Holiday were the most vocal, sources said.
Boylen repeatedly referenced his days on the San Antonio Spurs staff and instances in which coach Gregg Popovich pulled all five players off the floor to send a message, sources said.
A player responded, sources said, telling Boylen in essence that they aren’t the Spurs and, more importantly, he isn’t Popovich.
The wildest part of all this: The Bulls already said they plan to keep Boylen as head coach next season. They’re not treating him as an interim.
But Boylen must dig himself out of a hole just to make it through the rest of this season.
Popovich can be hard on his players, but he has also proven that, if they buy in, he’ll help them perform at a high level. Boylen hasn’t. Absent demonstrated Xs-and-Os and developmental acumen, he just comes across as overbearing. NBA players don’t want to be treated like children.
The Bulls even complained to the players’ union, according to Goodwill and Haynes.
Boylen could grow from this, too. But he put himself behind the eight ball with his harsh start.