While rounding out a new front office (such as hiring Marc Eversley’s as GM), and with play suspended mid-season, the Chicago Bulls new man in charge — Arturas Karnisovas — has been able to avoid one question:
Will coach Jim Boylen be back as head coach?
Boylen expects to keep his job, and at the least wants a chance to make that pitch. A lot of Bulls fans — and league observers — expect Boylen will lose his job. Boylen hasn’t been popular with players, picks odd times to make points with timeouts, and, in any situation, a new front office often leads to a new coach.
At the Athletic, Darnell Mayberry broke down what he has heard from sources is next.
While Boylen is hoping to stay, the easiest and most efficient way for Karnisovas to begin building the Bulls in his image is to bring in his own coach. Multiple rival executives who spoke to The Athletic on the condition of anonymity anticipate that is what the Bulls eventually will do, whether in the coming days or whenever the NBA announces plans for continuing or canceling its interrupted regular season…
So who could the next coach be? Two current assistant coaches are standing out as increasingly possible Boylen replacements whenever the job may open: Toronto’s Adrian Griffin and Philadelphia’s Ime Udoka.
Both have ties to the new front-office regime. Both have long been mentioned in coaching circles as lead-man material. And on multiple levels, both fit the mold the Bulls previously have pursued.
It would be a massive surprise if Karnisovas and company make any kind of move before some kind of conclusion of the season is announced. With the Bulls eight games out of the playoffs and the 11 seed in the East when play was suspended, there is a very good chance they do not play again. Still, it would be bad form to fire the coach and make a move for another until there is some kind of official conclusion to the Bulls’ season.
There is some political cover in keeping Boylen on — “he’s not my hire, we wanted to evaluate him and the players” which buys Karnisovas some time — but if his unpopularity with the players hurts the locker room chemistry and the Bulls ability to recruit free agents, then it is time for a change. Both Griffin and Udoka are considered guys ready for their shot in the big chair.
Most of the speculation around the league I have heard is that a change is coming, that the Bulls will be looking for a new head coach. The question becomes when will that decision get made? Like everything around the NBA right now, that is up in the air.