Arturas Karnisovas

Bulls fire coach Jim Boylen

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Maybe the Bulls, despite a report otherwise, never actually planned to keep Jim Boylen for financial reasons. Maybe they did plan to keep him but saw the intense negative reaction to that report among Chicago fans.

Either way, Boylen is gone now.

Bulls release:

Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President – Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas announced today that Jim Boylen has been relieved of his duties as head coach.

MICHAEL REINSDORF: “No one could question Jim’s passion for our team and our organization. We sincerely appreciate his tireless efforts and contributions during his time with the Bulls, and we wish him and his family the very best.”

ARTURAS KARNISOVAS: “After doing a comprehensive evaluation and giving the process the time it deserved, I ultimately decided that a fresh approach and evolution in leadership was necessary. This was a very difficult decision, but it is time for our franchise to take that next step as we move in a new direction and era of Chicago Bulls basketball. Jim is a great human being that cares deeply about this organization and the game of basketball. I want to thank him for his professionalism and commitment to the franchise.”

A formal coaching search will begin immediately.

76ers assistant Ime Udoka was reportedly frontrunner to become Chicago’s next coach. A full search could yield other candidates. However, the Bulls must overcome a reported poor reputation among coaches and possible financial limitations in these economic times.

Chicago still has other problems, but Boylen was one. His tenure began with a near-mutiny when he took over for Fred Hoiberg during the 2018-19 season. To his credit, Boylen improved while on the job. But coming from such a low starting point, he often looked in over his head.

His players continued to dislike him. His signature coaching move was ill-timed timeouts. His record was just 39-84 (.317).

Firing him should have been obvious, especially once the Bulls hired Arturas Karnisovas as team president. Let Karnisovas hire his own coach.

Chicago’s roster is lacking, though not necessarily hopeless.

Zach LaVine is more near-star than All-Star – not an ideal centerpiece – but the 25-year-old could continue to improve. Youngsters Coby White, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. have had too many downs to feel great about their futures, though enough ups to at least be intrigued. Veterans Otto Porter, Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky have underwhelmed but have prior records of success.

A new coach will have pieces to work with.

Karnisovas has more work ahead to upgrade those pieces.

Rumor: Bulls player who might be available in trade is Thaddeus Young

Thaddeus Young trade
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Feel free to ignore the rumors about the Knicks’ and Nets’ interest in Zach LaVine. It’s not that the New York teams wouldn’t be interested if the 25-point-a-game wing became available, it’s that the new Bulls front office is figuring out what direction it wants to go and LaVine (with two years left on his contract) may be part of that future. Chicago has no plans to trade LaVine.

The Bull who could be available in a trade? Thaddeus Young.

That according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

In fact, according to executives from two other teams, Thad Young, not LaVine, is the player considered most readily available. That’s largely based on Young’s displeasure with his role and usage last season, his team-friendly deal that carries only a partial guarantee in 2021-22 and his dependability and professionalism.

Young, 32, is a rock-solid 13-year NBA veteran who gave the Bulls nearly 25 minutes and 10.3 points a game, while shooing 35.3% from three. He gets his points without needing plays run for him. More importantly, he’s a quality defender who can disrupt passing lanes with his 7’1″ wingspan. A number of teams could use him at the four to stretch the floor and give them quality minutes every night.

Young has two years, $27.7 million left on his contract, a very reasonable number for the production. That makes him very tradeable.

All this will depend on what direction the new front office of  Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley decide to take the franchise. If Jim Boylen is out as coach, Young may want to stay and play for the new head man, getting a role he likes better. If Boylen stays (which feels more and more likely, it saves money in down economic times for the league and lets the new front office save the “change the coach” card for after another down year) Young will want out.

Look for Young’s name to come up in trade talk as we move into the offseason.

Knicks, Nets reportedly watching Zach LaVine situation in Chicago

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Zach LaVine can get buckets — he averaged 25.5 points a game for the Bulls last season, shooting 38% from three — but can you build a winner around him? It’s one of the questions the new front office in Chicago has to ask; at the same time, LaVine is realizing he needs to do more to contribute to wins.

If things don’t work out in Chicago, the Knicks and Nets (among other teams) may be waiting in the wings. From Ian Begley of SNY.TV:

And it’s worth noting that both the Knicks and the Nets are among the teams who have been monitoring LaVine’s situation in Chicago. Per SNY sources, both teams have done background work on LaVine to be prepared for the possibility that Chicago ends up listening to trade offers on the 25-year-old guard.

LaVine is not going to be available soon (if ever), this more of a “let’s monitor it” situation for the New York teams. With a short offseason and a fluid salary cap situation next season, don’t expect Chicago to make trades, reports K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Also, chalk the Zach LaVine to the Knicks rumors up to the “he was a former CAA client so new Knicks president Leon Rose wants him” school of thought. Which is not necessarily the case.

LaVine has a couple of years left on his current contract at a reasonable $19.5 million (the kind of contract GMs like to hold on to). More importantly, we don’t know what style of team new Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas wants to build. While Jim Boylen still has the job, for now, we don’t know who the long-term coach will be and how said person feels about LaVine. Then there are just the questions of roster fit: LaVine and Coby White backcourt would be offensively dynamic, but would it be good enough defensively to win games?

If the Bulls decide to go another direction, or if LaVine doesn’t like the new coach, the Bulls could test the trade market for LaVine. Then again, Chicago may decide LaVine is one of the players they need to build around. Either way, it’s likely next summer before we have a better idea of the future of Chicago and LaVine in it.

The Knicks need talent (and a coach, but that’s another discussion) and are on the lookout to trade for it. However, they will need to draft well and develop players — something previous New York administrations did not do well — to really turn the franchise around.

 

Bulls’ Daniel Gafford says coach Jim Boylen ‘got some things he can work on’

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Jim Boylen remains the coach of the Chicago Bulls. For now. Rumors have swirled around the league for a while that new VP of basketball operations in Chicago Arturas Karnisovas was going to let Boylen go and bring in his guy as coach, in part because several prominent young Bulls players are not Boylen fans.

When asked about his coach, Bulls rookie big man Daniel Gafford wasn’t going to trash Jim Boylen but didn’t exactly sing his praises either. Gafford was answering questions while streaming NBA 2K20 on Twitch and was asked what he thinks of his coach. His full answer, hat tip 670 The Score:

“I’m going to answer this question, but I’m not going to read it out. As a matter of fact, I will read it out. Do you like Jim Boylen? He aight. I don’t like him a lot, but he OK. Got some things he can work on, got some things he can get better at as a person and as a coach. I’m not going to hate on him. I’m not going to hate the man.”

Not ripping the man, but not exactly having his back, either. Considering Gafford is a rookie, this is as much as anyone should expect him to say negatively about a coach.

Like every new head of basketball operations, Karnisovas will eventually want to get his own guy in as coach. That guy is not Boylen. However, it’s possible Boylen survives to coach next season in Chicago — I wouldn’t say likely, but possible — for a couple of reasons. First, the owner and former management like Boylen (but they have given Karnisovas the green light to make a change). Second, is the coronavirus impact on the league: A shortened offseason for a new coach to implement his system, plus with less revenue coming in owners are not inclined to pay multiple coaches.

The sense around the league is still that Boylen will be shown the door, but it hasn’t happened yet so everything is on the table. If the Bulls are going to make a change they will want to do so before any off-season camps/training sessions so the new coach can work with the Bulls core and start to put in a new system.

Bryan Colangelo now part owner of LaMelo Ball’s old Australian team

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Bryan Colangelo is back in basketball.

The man last working in the NBA as the 76ers GM — until a Twitter controversy started by his wife surfaced — is now the part-owner of and an advisor to the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League. That would be the team LaMelo Ball played for and tried to purchase a piece of, but could not.

The NBL announced the move in a press release. Colangelo is co-owner with Dorry Kordahi, a former part-owner of the Sydney Kings, and Michael Proctor. Colangelo will not have a day-to-day role as GM/President but will serve as a consultant and advisor to the basketball operations side.

“Australian basketball with its great history has been on a significant rise for many years now and the NBL has played a significant role in growing the sport’s awareness and participation levels, while developing some of the best athlete and coaching talent the world has to offer,” Colangelo said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be selected as new partners with the league and pledge to outperform the expectations placed on us and deliver for Hawks fans.

“With the Next Stars initiative, the league has strategically positioned itself as a viable alternative for young athletes seeking a premium player development and athlete care model that best prepares them for competing at the sport’s highest levels. LaMelo Ball, among others, serves as a great example of just how influential the NBL has become on a global basis.”

LaMelo used the games he played in Australia to ensure a spot near the top of the NBA Draft this year.

Colangelo worked in the front office in Toronto and Phoenix before being in Philadelphia and was twice named NBA Executive of the Year. He interviewed for the team president in Chicago this year, but the Bulls went with Arturas Karnisovas.