Jim Boylen

Bulls Finalizing Three-Year Extension With Jim Boylen

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.

Central Notes: Rose, Griffin, Young, Bulls

Derrick Rose hasn’t ruled out a reunion with the Bulls, his agent said in a radio interview on Monday. B.J. Armstrong said Rose is “open” to signing with the Bulls as an unrestricted free agent. He spent the first seven years of his career in Chicago after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Armstrong commented on Rose’s interest in the Bulls during an interview with 670 The Score which was relayed by the Sporting News.

“We’ll see what the Bulls have,” Armstrong said. “There’s no secret, there’s no doubt that in his heart, Chicago will always be there. We’ll see. I don’t know what the Bulls are going to do at this particular time. … If it presented itself, we’d be open to that conversation.”

Rose was enjoying a bounce-back season with the Timberwolves, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.3 APG, before it was cut short due to injury. The former Bulls MVP had bone chips removed from his right elbow last month.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin probably would be sitting out due to a left knee injury if they weren’t desperately trying to make the playoffs, coach Dwane Casey admits. The Pistons have lost four straight and need to win their last two games to ensure they’ll make the postseason for the second time in a decade. Griffin missed three games because of the sore knee but has played the last two, including a poor-shooting 16-point outing against Charlotte on Sunday. “We need him and we appreciate his effort, what he’s giving to us right now,” Casey said.
  • Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young feels he can keep going for several more years, Scott Agness of The Athletic reports. Young will be participating in the playoffs for the eighth time in 12 seasons. “It doesn’t look like I’m slowing down anytime soon. The good thing for me is I’m very, very healthy. I’m about 98 percent right now,” he said. “I’m just very happy that I’m able to play and able to continue to play. But I wouldn’t put a cap on what I’m going to play or what I’m trying to play. I have plenty left in the tank.” Young will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely seek a multi-year deal.
  • Coach Jim Boylen said the Bulls could use more versatile defenders to compete in the division but he’s unsure if they should pursue a big-ticket free agent and divide up their cap space, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “How we spend the money and how it’s split up … I mean do we hope to get two good players for that chunk of money and add depth, improve our bench maybe or do we get one guy? It really depends on who shakes out [in free agency], who is available, and what happens to the rest of the teams in the league,’’ Boylen said.

Central Notes: LaVine, Lopez, Brogdon, Osman

Zach LaVine‘s offer to pay a fine for coach Jim Boylen shows the progress their relationship has made in three months, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. The Bulls have given their approval for LaVine to cover the $7,000 penalty, which was incurred after Boylen was ejected for an argument with Clippers coach Doc Rivers during Friday’s game. However, NBA rules state that a fine must be paid by the person it was issued to, so LaVine’s offer may not be accepted.

Andrews recalls that LaVine was openly critical of Boylen’s coaching decisions when he replaced Fred Hoiberg in December, while Boylen publicly questioned LaVine’s commitment to defense. LaVine helped organize a meeting involving players, coaches and management after Boylen scheduled a practice the day after a 56-point loss. The tension has disappeared as Boylen has solidified his hold on the head coaching spot, and LaVine is now willing to stand up for him.

“What Jim did, I personally respect that a lot,” LaVine said. “He really cares about us and he’s going to fight for us. That shows his true character the way he feels about us.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls center Robin Lopez seemed like a prime candidate for a trade or a buyout, but he has stayed and become a veteran leader on a young team, writes Sam Smith of NBA.com. Lopez, who will be a free agent this summer, has been a reliable contributor, playing in 62 of Chicago’s 70 games. “He’s in great shape, takes great care of himself, eats well. His body looks the same as when he was 25,” Boylen said. “When you have a veteran guy who never wants to sit out or skip practice, there’s a lot of power in that.”
  • Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon is projected to miss six to eight weeks with a plantar fascia tear in his right foot, but the team is optimistic his recovery time will be closer to six weeks, according to Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. That would have him back in time for the second round of the playoffs.
  • Turkish native Cedi Osman is excited about the chance to face Team USA — and possibly Cavaliers teammate Kevin Love — in this year’s FIBA World Cup, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Turkey has been slotted in Group E along with the United States, the Czech Republic and Japan. “We are going to shoot our shot and, of course, it’s going to be tough, but we’re going to try to do our best,” Osman said. Love is considering the tournament, but hasn’t committed yet after missing most of the season because of foot surgery.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Dunn, Felicio, Boylen

Bulls head coach Jim Boylen and top scorer Zach LaVine told reporters earlier this week that they’d proceed cautiously with LaVine’s right knee injury, leading to some speculation that the team might consider shutting down the 24-year-old for the rest of the season. However, Boylen said today that LaVine is listed as probable on the injury report and will likely play vs. the Clippers on Friday, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

LaVine, who said on Monday that it wouldn’t be smart to “go out there and try to risk anything right now,” is feeling much better a few days later. While the Bulls may have briefly considered the possibility of shutting him down and playing it safe, LaVine always hoped to return for the season’s final four weeks.

“That’s just not who I am,” LaVine said, per Johnson (Twitter link). “[Shutting it down]’s not what I do. It’s going to be good for the team. We can get our chemistry down, continue to play well, build things for next year.”

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • Former fifth overall pick Kris Dunn has ceded some fourth-quarter minutes to Ryan Arcidiacono lately, prompting Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago to explore how much longer Dunn will be the Bulls’ No. 1 point guard. As Schanowski notes, Dunn is extension-eligible this offseason, but the team seems far more likely to address the position in the draft or free agency than to negotiate a long-term deal with the former Providence star.
  • Addressing the Dunn situation in his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune says he thinks there will be an open competition at the point guard spot in the fall, with Dunn going up against whoever the Bulls acquire in the offseason.
  • Within his mailbag, Johnson also discusses the Bulls’ draft options, possible frontcourt offseason targets, and the plan for Cristiano Felicio, among other topics.
  • In an ESPN.com video, Adrian Wojnarowski says the Bulls are pleased with their direction going forward and intend to build around the four-player core of LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, and Otto Porter. Wojnarowski also reiterates that Boylen will be back with the team next season, though he cautions there are no long-term guarantees for Chicago’s head coach.

Central Notes: Bucks, Mirotic, Cavs, Boylen

The Bucks haven’t won a postseason series since 2001, but general manager Jon Horst believes this is the year the team breaks that streak, and potentially makes a much deeper playoff run, as he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“This is a time for us to take a step forward and to win a playoff series,” Horst said. “Even though people are sleeping on the Bucks, I think if we bowed out in the first round, everybody would be like, ‘What in the hell happened?’ Me included. That would be a disappointment.

“But it would be a significant thing for us to advance, because we haven’t done it in so long and it would be a big step for this group. But I think the metrics line up where if we can do that and stay healthy, and stay together, have some lucky breaks along the way, I think the talent and the performance thus far would show you that we should be playing into June, hopefully.”

As Amick explores in his deep dive on the Bucks, the team has enjoyed the sort of camaraderie and chemistry this season that Horst believes can play a significant part in a club’s success. In Horst’s view, that sort of enthusiasm to come into work extends to all aspects of the organization in Milwaukee, rather than just the 15 players on the NBA roster.

“Quite honestly, I’ve fired people in our organization because they can’t get excited about working for a franchise that has a brand new arena, a brand new practice facility, Giannis Antetokounmpo as a superstar, Mike Budenholzer as a head coach, and the ownership that we have,” Horst said. “And I say, ‘If you can’t get excited, and wake up in the morning to be part of that, then you don’t belong.’ That’s from a staffing perspective, and a player perspective, on down. That’s the culture. That’s the filter that we’ve tried to establish.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Nikola Mirotic, who arrived in Milwaukee just a few weeks before Pau Gasol did, played a key role in ensuring his fellow Spaniard ended up with the Bucks, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details. When Gasol was presented with the opportunity to leave the Spurs via buyout and was considering joining the Bucks, he asked Mirotic for his impressions of the organization. “I said, ‘Listen, man, I really feel this team is special and if you want to be part of something special you should join this team,'” Mirotic said, per Velazquez. “That’s all I told him and I really felt that way.”
  • During the Cavaliers‘ four-year run as Eastern champs, they ultimately gave up on Joe Harris, who has since evolved into an important contributor in Brooklyn. Now that they’re in the midst of a rebuild themselves, the Cavs are looking to find “value in the margins” by identifying players like Harris, who may slip through the cracks elsewhere, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.
  • Count Sixers head coach Brett Brown among those who believe in Jim Boylen‘s ability to lead the Bulls. Before his 76ers fell to Boylen’s squad on Wednesday night, Brown praised the Bulls’ head coach for getting the most out of his players, calling him the right person to “help steer this program” through its rebuild (link via Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago). While Boylen took over for Fred Hoiberg during the season, he’s expected to return as Chicago’s coach next season.

Bulls Will ‘Absolutely’ Retain Paxson, Forman

The Bulls have no plans to replace executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson or general manager Gar Forman in their front office anytime soon, team president and COO Michael Reinsdorf tells K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Reinsdorf confirmed in no uncertain terms that Paxson and Forman would be back next season.

“Absolutely. We believe they’ve done a great job,” Reinsdorf said of the duo. “I know that in this market, with some of our fans and some in the media, they look at it differently. That perplexes me. Let’s talk about them individually because that’s another thing I don’t understand — why they’re referred to as ‘GarPax’ when they have different job responsibilities.

“… I said [previously] that if we ever felt we weren’t headed in the right direction that we’d be open to change. But we’re nowhere near that. John’s ability to build rosters is proven. We have the utmost confidence in him.”

Reinsdorf took exception to the idea that the Bulls have gone through a handful of rebuilds under Paxson and Forman, arguing that this is just the club’s second rebuild, and stating that he believes it’s very much on the right track. Pointing to promising young players like Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter, Reinsdorf likened the Bulls to the Kings and expressed optimism that Chicago can take a similar step forward next season.

The Bulls’ president and COO also offered a defense of Forman’s draft record, praising the GM for selecting players like Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson, and Bobby Portis outside of the lottery over the years. The selection of Markkanen at No. 7 in 2017 earned high praise from Reinsdorf as well.

“If we look at Lauri Markkanen, if you did the 2017 draft over again, Lauri in theory could be the No. 1 pick in the draft,” Reinsdorf said. “You might say Jayson Tatum or Donovan Mitchell. But Lauri could be the No. 1 pick. That’s how good that pick was at No. 7.”

While Paxson, Forman, and head coach Jim Boylen have all received plenty of criticism from segments of the Bulls’ fanbase over the course of the 2018/19 season, it sounds like all three will be back to start the 2019/20 campaign. In addition to praising the club’s management team, Reinsdorf echoed Paxson’s earlier comments on Boylen returning for next season, lauding the work he has done with Markkanen and LaVine.

“Nothing has changed from what John has said,” Reinsdorf said. “I’m very happy with the job that Jim has done. Everything he has said he was going to do, he has done.”

Central Notes: Middleton, Bulls, Boylen, Cavs

Asked after the All-Star Game about his upcoming free agency, Bucks swingman Khris Middleton deflected the question, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays (via Twitter).

“I’ll think about the summertime in the summertime,” Middleton said. “We have a lot more work to do, hopefully. The second half of the season is going to be tough. We’ve been playing great basketball, so that’s the only thing I’m worried about.”

While Middleton may not want to talk about it yet, he figures to draw a ton of interest in the offseason — he’d be an ideal complementary piece for a handful of teams with cap room, and may be a fall-back option for other clubs that miss out on stars like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. If they want to retain Middleton going forward, the Bucks will likely have to double his $13MM salary.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer lauds the Bulls for their traded-deadline acquisition of Otto Porter, arguing that the veteran forward is exactly the sort of piece the team needed, since he has the ability to make players around him better.
  • The Bulls haven’t had a ton of on-court success since Jim Boylen took over as the team’s head coach, but he has done what the team’s management group asked of him, instilling a “blue-collar identity,” writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, Boylen, who could earn up to $1.6MM next season, with $1MM guaranteed, currently looks very likely to return to Chicago’s bench for 2019/20.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes an early look at potential candidates for the Cavaliers‘ permanent head coaching job. According to Fedor, Larry Drew should receive consideration if he wants it, but Cleveland figures to cast a wide net and may target an up-and-coming coach that can grow with the team’s players during the rebuild.

Eastern Notes: Porter, Fultz, Pacers

The Bulls acquired Otto Porter Jr. from the Wizards in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker and coach Jim Boylen is happy with the transaction.

“He’s just a basketball player. That’s what we needed, that’s what we got,” Boylen said (via Mark Strotman of NBC Sports). “What that means is you can throw him out there and he can get somebody else going, he can get himself going, he can make shots off the move.

“I think he showed the whole thing tonight. He showed a lot of versatility. I’m really thankful he’s a Bull.”

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic coach Steve Clifford is using some his downtime to watch game tape of Markelle Fultz and analyze the point guard’s play, John Denton of NBA.com relays. Denton notes that Fultz will likely work with assistants Bruce Kreutzer and Steve Hetzel, two coaches whom Kemba Walker has previously credited with helping to improve his shot.
  • While Clifford can understand how a change of scenery may help Fultz, the coach believes Fultz’s jump shot will ultimately determine his success with the Magic, as Denton passes along in the same piece. “How you fit with your teammates is a big deal, and the best players can play with anybody in any system,’’ Clifford said. “To me, if you want to say a different city, new start, different teammates, things like that [might help Fultz]. But, to be frank, the issue has been [Fultz’s] shoulder and his shooting and if you’re not a range shooter, you’re not going to be a good pick-and-roll player. With that part, we’ll see.’’
  • Pacers forward Thaddeus Young was thrilled when he learned that the team was pursuing Bojan Bogdanovic in free agency in 2017, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. “I said Bogey is a walking bucket. He can score in different ways that people don’t even know,” said Young, who previously played alongside Bogdanovic in Brooklyn. “I learned a lot about Bogey. I’ll play any day with Bogey on any team.”

Otto Porter Claims Wizards Promised Not To Trade Him

Otto Porter said Wizards management held a private meeting with him before the trade deadline and assured him that he would remain with the team, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. Washington’s front office changed its mind sometime before Wednesday night when Porter was shipped to Chicago in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker.

Porter was expected to be part of the Wizards’ future when he agreed to a rookie-scale extension in 2017. However, his production never matched his lofty new salary and he had settled into a sixth-man role since returning from an injury last month. He was owed $27.25MM next year and has a player option worth nearly $28.5MM for 2020/21, which created a luxury tax bind for a Wizards team that may not make the playoffs.

Katz notes that owner Ted Leonsis did a radio interview about a week ago in which he promised that Moore, John Wall and Bradley Beal would all stay with the organization past the deadline.

There’s more Wizards and Bulls news as the teams met tonight, just three days after the trade:

  • Parker contends his relationship with Jim Boylen did “a complete 180” after Boylen replaced Fred Hoiberg as Chicago’s head coach in December, relays Madeline Kenney of The Chicago Sun-Times“[Before that,] we never had controversy,” Parker said. “I always had his back, you know, with things that we had in-house problems with.” Displeased with Parker’s effort and commitment to defense, Boylen took him out of the rotation and Parker appeared in just one of 13 games in the first month that Boylen ran the team. “I’m happy,” Parker said of the deal that sent him to Washington. “I haven’t smiled in a while, but it’s great.”
  • Portis said he learned of Wednesday’s trade about 20 minutes prior to a game against the Pelicans and his “stomach dropped,” according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Portis seemed shocked about being dealt away from the team that drafted him in 2015. “Everybody knows how much I prided myself in playing for the Bulls and how much I really loved playing for the city of Chicago,” he said. “It’s a business and I finally got my first taste of it.”
  • Porter enjoyed the chance to provide inside information about his former team heading into tonight’s game, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Yeah, I was telling coach everything there was to know about Washington,” he said. “Everything. … I was snitching, yeah.”

Bulls Notes: Lopez, Porter, Boylen, Portis

Although a report from ESPN on Thursday indicated that the Bulls and Robin Lopez are expected to engage in buyout talks now that the trade deadline has passed, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson sounds like he expects Lopez to stick with the franchise for the rest of the season, as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune relays.

“My feeling right now — it can change — is Robin will be with us,” Paxson said. “Our players love him. He’s a great teammate. We don’t feel it’s an absolute given that we have to just buy a guy out to help another team.”

Paxson acknowledged that the Bulls would “have a discussion” if Lopez’s representatives requested a buyout, but stressed that the club loves having the veteran center around. Previous reports have suggested that Lopez would likely sign with the Warriors if he’s released, so perhaps the Bulls’ front office also isn’t exactly eager to help out the two-time defending champions.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • In explaining the trade for Otto Porter, Paxson said that the Bulls recognized they aren’t ready to pursue top free agents, which is why they didn’t mind committing future cap room to someone like Porter. “We’re not in the position to go after the big names, the franchise changers. We’re looking at things realistically,” Paxson said, per K.C. Johnson. “We also looked ahead to this summer, and even the summer beyond, at available wings and versatile players. There are no guarantees of getting players like that.”
  • The Bulls remain committed to having Jim Boylen continue as head coach of the team next season, Paxson said on Thursday (link via K.C. Johnson). “We’re working well together,” Paxson said. “Our objectives are the same. Jim’s doing the right things. From our seats, he’s promoting the right message to our players and what we expect.”
  • Speaking of Boylen, during a subsequent appearance on 670 The Score, Paxson pushed back on the narrative about the supposed near-mutiny that took place shortly after Boylen took over as the Bulls’ head coach, writes Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. Despite reports, Paxson said that Bulls players never contacted the NBPA about Boylen’s tactics.
  • While Paxson said on Thursday that the Bulls continue to evaluate Kris Dunn, it’s becoming clear that the team will need to further address the point guard spot at some point, writes Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. ESPN’s Zach Lowe previously reported that Dunn “was there to be had at the deadline.”
  • According to K.C. Johnson (Twitter link), before the Bulls traded Bobby Portis this week, they offered him a multiyear extension worth $40-50MM last fall. For four years, that’d be an annual average value around $10-12MM, but word around the league is that Portis will seek $16MM annually this summer, per Johnson.