Hours after Bulls VP of basketball operations John Paxson told reporters today that a contract extension for head coach Jim Boylen was “very possible,” Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times cites a source who says that the two sides are already in the process of finalizing a three-year deal. According to Cowley, it’s just a matter of finishing up the details and deciding when to announce it.
Boylen, who took over as the Bulls’ head coach when Fred Hoiberg was dismissed during the 2018/19 season, was already under contract for next season and was expected to be retained. However, NBA teams rarely let head coaches enter a season on an expiring contract, so it makes sense that Boylen would get a couple more years tacked onto the end of his deal. He may be in line for a raise as well, as his ’19/20 salary of $1.6MM was said to be partially guaranteed for $1MM.
Although his 17-41 record this season was modest, Boylen earned the trust of the Bulls’ front office, who frequently praised his tough-love approach and his ability to motivate players — even after an eventful first week in which players pushed back against Boylen’s aggressive practice schedule.
“I think what I’ve seen is his ability to show these guys he genuinely cares about them,” Paxson said today in his end-of-season press conference, per Cowley. “His goal is to get them better as individuals. I’m the first to admit that first week was like dynamite blowing up. It was a rocky week. What I’ve seen since then is a guy who embraces this challenge. He embraces the individuals he’s coaching. He really does view himself as a teacher, a guy who wants to connect with the players.
“It goes back to what I see in this building every day and what I see on the road and how he’s approaching situations. Nobody is perfect. I rub people the wrong way sometimes in this office. Jim is going to rub players the wrong way sometimes. Phil Jackson rubbed players the wrong way. The great ones do. We’re going to try to build something here with him as our coach and I’m confident in that right now.”
As K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweets, Paxson said today that he plans to sit down with Boylen to identify where he needs help. The club’s coaching staff will be discussed, so there’s no guarantee that all of Boylen’s assistants will return for next season.