Rumor: Bulls have poor reputation among coaches

Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Gar Forman
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Bulls general manager Jerry Krause repeatedly tried to replace legendary coach Phil Jackson. Despite previously insisting he wouldn’t quit, Tim Floyd “resigned” as Chicago’s coach on Christmas Eve 2001. The Bulls fired Bill Cartwright the Monday following Thanksgiving Weekend 2003. Chicago fired Scott Skiles on Christmas Eve 2007. Bulls executive John Paxson actually fought coach Vinny Del Negro, who got fired in 2010. Paxson and Chicago general manager Gar Forman repeatedly clashed with Tom Thibodeau, who got fired in 2015 despite his successful record. The Bulls hired long-rumored replacement Fred Hoiberg then left him out to dry as players walked all over him.

Does that coaching history explain why new Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley are being so deliberate in assessing current coach Jim Boylen?

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Suns-Times on 670 The Score:

There is a perception problem, and when you come from the outside – like Arturas did and Marc Eversley have – you know what that perception problem is. Carlisle, the Dallas coach, has made it very clear the disdain the coaches association and a lot of coaches have for the Bulls and the practices they have toward coaches. The way they’ve treated them as commodities for more than three, four decades, the way they’ve fired guys on Christmas Eve. So, there is a perception problem that I think these guys want to change coming in now to this that the old regime didn’t care about nor did they maybe even see fully.

It’s twofold. They’re buying time because they have time to buy, but also I think it’s also a perception thing that they’re looking to change.

As long as Jerry Reinsdorf sits in that powerful chair and he’s allowed executives to treat managers and coaches like this – look, everyone thinks players talk. Coaches talk, too. This place – in the Bulls and the Advocate Center – does not have a good reputation with coaches.

Coaches love to claim other coaches got unfairly victimized, circumstances barely mattering. That isn’t changing.

Will Chicago’s reputation change?

Maybe, but Jerry Reinsdorf remains Bulls owner. These issues have spanned multiple front-office heads. Reinsdorf is the common link and remains in charge.

Top candidates to replace Boylen – Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin and 76ers assistant Ime Udoka – have emerged. If other coaches want, they could easily claim Chicago treated Boylen unfairly by seeking his replacement while leaving him dangling.

Or coaches could appreciate Karnisovas and Eversley giving ample opportunity to a coach who wants to prove himself despite struggling on and off the court.

Karnisovas shouldn’t get too hung up on immediately flipping Chicago’s reputation among coaches. He should focus on finding the best coach available then treating him right. If he does, everything else will fall in line.

James Harden returns to 76ers Monday night, is on minutes restriction

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers
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The 76ers were able to keep their heads above water. For 14 games, James Harden was out with a right foot tendon sprain — both Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey missed games in that stretch as well (Maxey remains out) — and Philadelphia went 8-6 with a +2.9 net rating and the best defense in the NBA over that stretch.

Monday night in Houston, Harden returns.

This wasn’t a surprise, nor is the fact Doc Rivers confirmed Harden will be on a minutes restriction at first.

Harden averaged 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds a game before his injury, and while his 3-point shooting percentage was down (33.3%) he was still efficient and finding his footing as more of a facilitator than scorer.

The 76ers are 12-11 on the season and sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the East (with the Pacers and Raptors). If Harden can spark the Philadephia offense there is plenty of time for them to climb into the top four, host a first-round playoff game and position themselves for a deep playoff run. But it starts with getting their starting guards healthy again.

Harden is ready to take that on.

Trae Young frustrated ‘private conversations get out to the public’ about missed game

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
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Rumors and chatter of tension in Atlanta — about how Trae Young was adapting to playing with Dejonte Murray, and his pushback on coach Nate McMillan and his efforts to get the ball moving more — have been all over the league since the start of the season. Over the weekend, a little of that leaked out, with reports Young chose not to come to the arena Friday after McMillan gave him a choice of participating in shootaround or missing the game.

Young addressed the report and seemed more concerned that it got out than the report’s content.

“I mean, it was just a situation. I mean, we’re all grown men here and there’s sometimes we don’t always agree. And it’s unfortunate that private situations and private conversations get out to the public, but I guess that’s the world we live in now. Yeah, I’m just gonna just focus on basketball and focus on helping my team win. And that’s what I got to be focusing on…

“Like I said, it’s a private matter, again, made public, which is unfortunate. And if it was to stay private, it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. But like I said, it’s unfortunate in my job, and my goal is to win championships. And that’s what I focus on.”

Young went through shootaround  Monday and is set to play against the Thunder.

Murray has been professional throughout this situation, saying he didn’t see anything at the shootaround Friday and backing Young and McMillan when asked.

Bringing in Murray was supposed to take some pressure off Young and spread the wealth more on offense, ideally allowing Young to be more efficient. Instead, Young’s usage rate is nearly identical to last season, he is shooting just 30.3% from 3 and his true shooting percentage has fallen below league average. The Hawks as a team make the fewest passes per game of any team in the league (stat via NBA.com). The Hawks’ offense is still a lot of Young, but it’s not as efficient as it has been in years past.

Atlanta is still 13-10 on the season, has a top-10 defense and sits fourth in the East — they are not struggling. But neither have they made the leap to become a team that could threaten Boston or Milwaukee atop the conference, and that’s what the Hawks expected.

There could be personnel moves coming in Atlanta — John Collins is available via trade, again — but if the Hawks can’t smooth out their internal, existing concerns (and get Collins and DeAndre Hunter healthy) other roster moves will be just cosmetic.

Nike, Kyrie Irving part ways, making him a sneaker free agent

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets
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Here’s the positive spin for Kyrie Irving: He will have the chance to remake his situation into something he’s more comfortable with during 2023. As a player, he will be an unrestricted free agent and can choose where he wants to play in coming seasons (how many teams are interested and for how many years will be interesting to see).

Irving also is a sneaker free agent — Nike has cut ties with him, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Irving is happy with this.

The separation is not a surprise. Nike suspended its relationship with Irving after he Tweeted out support for an antisemitic film, did not apologize (at first), and was suspended by the Nets. Here was the company’s statement at that time:

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism. To that end, we’ve made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone.”

Nike founder Phil Knight said it was likely the end of the company’s relationship with Irving.

That’s not a small thing by Nike, Irving has had a signature shoe line since 2014 and is reported to have a deal with Nike worth more than $10 million a season because his shoes are popular. However, his contract with the shoe giant was set to end in October 2023, and there had been reports Nike did not plan to extend that deal before this current controversy started.

Nike is already looking in a new direction, at Ja Morant.

Irving now has the chance to choose his new direction.

 

Cavaliers’ Dean Wade to miss 3-4 weeks due to shoulder injury

NBA: NOV 06 Cavaliers at Lakers
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In Cleveland’s search for a fifth starter to play the three next to Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, Dean Wade might be the best of the group. Not that the numbers are great for him or anyone (Cedi Osman is the best statistically) but the eye test makes one think Wade could be the answer.

We’ll have to wait a while to find out as Wade will be out 3-4 weeks with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, the Cavaliers announced. Friday night against the Magic he suffered an aggravation to a previous injury.

Wade has been a quality floor-spacer for the Cavaliers this season, shooting 41.1% from three, and is averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game, playing a little more than 24 minutes a night.

When he returns, hopefully coach J.B. Bickerstaff will give him a little more run with the rest of the Cavaliers core (when they are healthy).