There appears to be strong growing momentum for Bulls head coach Jim Boylen to retain his current position, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who reports that financial considerations are expected to play a key role in the decision.
Nearly three months ago, Cowley reported that new Bulls executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley were believed to be leaning toward making a head coaching change after receiving a “mixed bag” of feedback on Boylen from Bulls players. Cowley writes today that the team’s top basketball operations execs had even reached out through back-channels to potential candidates such as Sixers assistant Ime Udoka and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin.
However, the Bulls’ financial landscape has changed over the last few months. Team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who doesn’t have a reputation for aggressive spending, has claimed that financial losses for the Bulls and his Chicago White Sox are “in the nine figures.” There’s also ongoing uncertainty about what the 2020/21 NBA season will look like and how the coronavirus pandemic may continue to impact team and league revenues.
Although he cautions that the situation is fluid, Cowley suggests that the Bulls’ financial situation has greatly increased the chances of Boylen’s return. It doesn’t help matters that there are still no plans in place to have the NBA’s bottom eight teams conduct some form of organized offseason activites. Karnisovas has previously spoken about wanting to evaluate Boylen in such a setting, but he may not get an opportunity to do so.
ESPN reported last month that the financial strain caused by the pandemic may make teams around the league less inclined to change coaches this offseason, so the latest update on Boylen doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
Still, as Cowley rightly points out (via Twitter), it’s not as if replacing Boylen with a first-time coach like Udoka or Griffin would be exorbitantly costly for the franchise, at least in relative terms. Boylen is making just $1.6MM and a first-time coach could potentially be hired for a salary in the $2.5MM range. The league’s highest-paid coaches – Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich – are reportedly earning $10MM+ per year.