Bulls players, or at least some of them, are not fans of coach Jim Boylen. They haven’t been since the near-mutiny when he first got the job, and that has continued through this season. Tensions are particularly high with star Zach LaVine. Boylen is an old-school, hard-a** guy who had his players literally punching in on the clock for work during training camp, says it’s not his job to motivate the players, and has not seemed to earn the respect in the locker room needed to get player buy-in.
Bulls’ management, however, loves him. That’s why they gave him a contract extension last summer.
Despite a 9-18 start to the season the Chicago front office Boylen’s back. Ignore those rumors (and the wishes of Bulls fans) because there will be no coaching change, Bulls executive John Paxson told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
Exec VP John Paxson gave separate interviews to select beat writers today. Full interview with @NBCSChicago posting soon. Here's one quote: "We’re committed to Jim. There’s no quick fix to this. We’re not thinking of making any changes. Jim is a grinder."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 14, 2019
Here is more of the full quote, via NBC Sports Chicago.
“We’re committed to Jim. There’s no quick fix to this. We’re not thinking of making any changes. Jim is a grinder. He’s going to keep grinding…
“We’re committed to Jim. From my seat, I have to look at things from a 30,000-foot view. I’m not going to sit here and say there’s some move we can make, whether it’s personnel or anything right now, that’s going to make a huge difference. We have to continue to develop Wendell Carter, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine. Go down the line. We have Chandler Hutchison. Kris Dunn has done a great job accepting a role. That continues to be our focus. Develop these kids. Get them to grow into good players.”
It’s Paxson’s job to determine if that development is happening, and an acceptable pace.
Paxson also said to NBC Sports Chicago he is disappointed in the Bulls’ record but believes in the offensive system they are running. Even if the Bulls have the 29th-ranked offense in the league.
The bottom line for Bulls fans, Boylen isn’t going anywhere for now. After the player-friendly style of Fred Hoiberg, the old-school Paxson likes his old-school coach.
Which will not matter if the 9-18 Bulls keep on playing this poorly. This was a year the Bulls were expected to take a step forward, with a healthy Lauri Markkanen and development from young players. Except Markkanen has been pedestrian, Otto Porter missed a lot of time due to injury, players have stagnated, and there is no offensive identity.
It’s possible to lose a lot of games while building a team culture. Brett Brown did it in Philadelphia. Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson did it in Brooklyn.
If Paxson and GM Gar Forman feel that’s happening in Chicago, that Boylen is building a culture and foundation of success for the future, one that is developing players and would attract free agents — and so long as Gar/Pax has the backing of owner Michael Reinsdorf — then Boylen is safe.
At least until the weight of all those losses becomes too much to bear.