The Bulls decided to keep Jim Boylen for next season.
Now, they must justify it.
Chicago promoted Boylen from assistant coach to head coach when firing Fred Hoiberg in December. Boylen quickly alienated players with harsh public criticism, five-man substitutions and long practices. A practice scheduled for the day after a back-to-back inspired a near-boycott. But to his credit, Boylen has improved as a coach in the months since. He seems more laid back, and his offense isn’t as rigid. The Bulls are even 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Boylen appears to be on the right track – from a low starting point, but on the right track nonetheless.
Now, Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf, intentionally or not, is raising expectations far higher.
Reinsdorf said he thinks the process to hire a head coach needs to be more thorough. Just as teams put potential draft picks through a series of questions and situations, he said coaching candidates should have to go through a similar process.
‘‘I think the process just needs to change on how you’re hiring coaches,’’ Reinsdorf said. ‘‘There is difficulty
[because] you don’t truly know someone until they’re sitting in that office or they’re on that bench.’’
Reinsdorf said there’s a reason the Bulls are excited about moving forward with coach Jim Boylen.
‘‘You knew Jim,’’’ Reinsdorf said. ‘‘There were no surprises. Just like [former Bulls coach] Phil Jackson. When Phil Jackson was hired, they knew; they knew Phil. There were no surprises there.
Reinsdorf isn’t directly comparing Boylan’s coaching acumen to Jackson’s coaching acumen, just that they became Bulls head coaches after being Bulls assistant coaches. (Jackson worked under then replaced Doug Collins in 1989.) There’s a comfort in evaluating someone up close on the job.
But people will see Reinsdorf as generally comparing Boylan to Jackson, one of the greatest coaches of all-time. It’s unavoidable.
Especially because Reinsdorf could have also included Bill Cartwright, whom Chicago promoted from assistant coach to head coach after firing Tim Floyd in 2001. Cartwright went 51-100 then got fired himself. If the comparison is just about path to the job, Cartwright fits as well as Jackson.
And what are the Bulls doing during coaching searches if not putting candidates through a series of questions and situations? Those seem like essential parts of an interview. Maybe fix that rather than just keeping the internal candidate.