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Bulls’ new president has yet to meet with coach Jim Boylen; no announcement yet

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls’ new top basketball executive wasn’t ready to make any announcements about the coaching staff over the weekend.

Arturas Karnisovas still has not met in person with head coach Jim Boylen. And that’s something he would like to do before going public with any decisions.

Boylen’s future is the biggest issue hanging over the Bulls, who were left out when the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a 22-team format to restart the pandemic-interrupted season next month in Orlando. Chicago has missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, a tough stretch for a franchise whose dominance in the 1990s was chronicled in the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.”

The Bulls overhauled their front office when they hired Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations in April and Marc Eversley as general manager a few weeks later.

Boylen remains on the job. But for how much longer?

“I haven’t met face to face yet,” Karnisovas said during a conference call. “There haven’t been any practices. There haven’t been any games since I became a part of this organization. I really take pride in my relationships that I cultivate with coaching staffs, my basketball operations staffs. I haven’t seen them. I’m looking forward to it.”

The Bulls came into the season hoping to contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But the plan did not come to fruition.

Chicago was 22-43 before play was stopped in March and quite a bit has changed since the team walked off the court for the final time. John Paxson, a link to the franchise’s glory years, moved into an advisory role after leading basketball operations for 17 years, and Gar Forman was fired as general manager.

Karnisovas is in charge and says he’s on his way to Chicago, though he wouldn’t say when he expects to arrive. Eversely is not in town yet, either.

But they’re starting to lay the groundwork, hoping to lift a struggling franchise.

Boylen’s status and a potential coaching search top the to-do list.

At 39-84 in just under two years and with a new management team in place, he appears to be on borrowed time. The only Bulls coach with a worse record than Boylen is Tim Floyd (49-190).

But if a change is coming, don’t expect an announcement soon. With potential replacements possibly tied up until October — when the delayed 2019-20 season concludes — the Bulls have time.

“I know that you are anxious for me to comment definitively on our future of the Chicago Bulls,” Karnisovas said. “I understand that anticipation. That said, I take pride in being deliberate and thoughtful in my decision-making and take the weight of my decisions seriously. I’m not inclined to make evaluations prematurely to satisfy our excitement to move this team forward.”

Hall of Famer Paul Westphal diagnosed with brain cancer

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Paul Westphal, the Hall of Fame guard who played at the peak of his career with the Phoenix Suns (and earlier won a championship with the Boston Celtics) has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

Longtime sportswriter Mike Lupica made the announcement.

Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive and difficult form of cancer to treat.

Westphal was born and raised in the South Bay area of greater Los Angeles and went on to play his college ball at USC. He was the No. 10 pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1972 NBA Draft and went on to play three seasons with the Celtics, winning a title with them in 1974.

After that he went on to Phoenix, where he was an All-Star player and was named to the All-NBA team four times. Westphal also played for the Knicks and Sonics during his career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame last September.

After playing he became a coach, spending at least part of seven seasons as the Suns head coach, plus he coached the Kings for three seasons.

One of the best-liked people in NBA circles, there are a lot of people in Westphal’s corner today and going forward.

 

Draymond Green fined $50,000 for tampering with Devin Booker

Draymond Green fined
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“It’s great to see Book playing well and Phoenix playing well, but get my man out of Phoenix It’s not good for him, it’s not good for his career. Sorry Chuck, but they’ve gotta get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere that he can play great basketball all of the time and win, because he’s that kind of player.”

That was the Warriors’ always outspoken Draymond Green on Inside the NBA on TNT Thursday, talking about the play of Devin Booker and the fast start of the Suns in the bubble.

The second he said it, Ernie Johnson asked, “Are you tampering?” Green said, “maybe.”

The NBA said yes and has fined Green $50,000 for “violating the league’s anti-tampering rule.”

In past years the NBA has mostly ignored player-to-player tampering, but after complaints from owners last season the league is cracking down on — at the very least — public tampering by players. Going on a popular national show to say Booker should leave Phoenix qualifies.

Just a reminder for fans of a team desperate for a star and suddenly looking at Phoenix, Booker has four years left (after this one) on his max contract extension. The Suns are building around him and Deandre Ayton — and right now it looks like it’s working (coach Monty Williams should get a lot of credit for that). The Suns aren’t looking to trade, Booker isn’t looking to leave (and has no leverage anyway), and the Suns seem to be building something real down in the Valley of the Sun.

 

Watch Luka Doncic post 36-19-14 with just dazzling passing (video)

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The Bucks’ have one of the best defenses in NBA history, allowing 7.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than league average. The Mavericks have the highest offensive rating (116.5) in league history.

Something had to give.

And it was Luka Doncic – to teammate after teammate after teammate.

Doncic had 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds in Dallas’ 136-132 overtime win over Milwaukee yesterday. He was in complete control as a scorer and passer, showing just how far he has come.

The Bucks already secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they played hard, forcing overtime. Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like the MVP with 34 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.

Doncic was just better.

Report: NBA could play next season at multiple regional bubbles

Warriors star Stephen Curry
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Other than waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to subside – a possibility – the NBA faces MAJOR challenges next season.

The bubble is working for finishing this season. But that’s with just 22 teams rather than the full 30. And this is just for a few months, not a full season. Players are already bristling about how long they’re separated from their families.

Yet, what’s the alternative to a bubble? It looks like the only safe way to play professional sports.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated

We’re a ways off from next season, but league sources have told me that the NBA is looking at options that include creating regional bubbles, should the COVID-19 pandemic still prevent normal business in the fall. Teams would report to a bubble for short stints—around a month—which would be followed by 1-2 weeks off.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Orlando is a consideration, and Las Vegas — a finalist for this summer’s restart — would reemerge as a possible site too, sources said.

This is an interesting possibility.

Smaller bubbles would reduce the odds of a coronavirus outbreak that undermines the whole league. But what happens if one bubble has coronavirus issues? Teams’ schedules could get significantly unbalanced quickly.

The shorter bubble lengths would allow players to spend time with family more frequently. But how many players would contract coronavirus while between bubbles? Look how many players got coronavirus during this last layoff.

There are no easy solutions amid this pandemic. This is one of many imperfect ideas that should at least be considered.