Jim Boylen took over mid-season for Fred Hoiberg in Chicago and instantly was the hard-*** that Hoiberg was not, doing some punitive stuff (harsh public criticism, hockey-style five-man substitutions, suicides in practice) to change the culture around the team. It nearly led to a player rebellion not showing up to practice, but eventually a peace (or at least a detente) was reached, with a player committee passing along concerns to the coach.
Boylen also took over in time for Lauri Markkanen to get healthy, and not shockingly the Bulls played better with him on the court, once he got adjusted. Then the team traded for Otto Porter to pair with Zach LaVine, and there were flashes of what this team could be in the future (a very impressive offense in February). Rumors circulated that the Bulls’ front office brain trust of John Paxson and Gar Forman liked what they saw and wanted to extend Boylen’s contract as coach.
That has happened, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
It’s a gamble. The Bulls were 17-41 under Boylen with a -7.8 net rating (27th in the NBA) and a bottom five offense and defense in that time. Chicago was 8-16 after the All-Star break with a -8 net rating (although some guys were shut down early, impacting those numbers). Plus, when The Athletic surveyed players and asked “which coach do you not want to play for” Boylen was first among active coaches (trailing only Tom Thibodeau), and that could influence some free agents (although his relationships with players seemed to improve as the season wore on).
Boylen, a long-time NBA assistant coach, is going to get his chance. The Bulls were 5-5 in February with a 116.2 offensive rating, second best in the NBA. Chicago is betting that can be closer to the future than the rest of the past campaign, and that he can help lift this team back into the playoffs, to start.