Jim Boylen

Northwest Notes: Barton, Boylen, Blazers, Thunder, Gobert

Nuggets wing Will Barton made it clear multiple times earlier this month that he believes he deserves to be a starter. However, after coming off the bench in Wednesday’s opener, Barton said he’s happy for Michael Porter Jr. – who has been promoted to the starting lineup – and is prepared to accept his new sixth man role, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes.

“My concern is not about (starting) anymore once I channel my energy to where it has to be,” Barton said. “That’s where I am, so I’m locked in right now, I’m coming off the bench. I’m not trying to worry about if I’m gonna start again. Right now I’ve got a job to do, and that’s my focus is to come off the bench and try to change the game for us and still help us win games.”

While Barton may not have started the Nuggets’ opener, he got the opportunity to finish it, playing all five minutes of overtime in Denver’s loss to Sacramento.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers brought in former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen for a three-week consultation to help Portland’s coaching staff implement a more aggressive defense, says Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I was intrigued with his ideas and what he did in Chicago,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said of Boylen. “And we will be using some of the things he talked about and augmenting some of his other things with what we already do.”
  • Even after stockpiling future draft picks for a second consecutive offseason, the Thunder may not be done, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who points out that the team could continue to extract draft assets in deals for Al Horford, George Hill, and Trevor Ariza, or by using a pair of giant trade exceptions to accommodate salary dumps.
  • ESPN’s Lisa Salters conducted an in-depth interview with Jazz center Rudy Gobert, discussing his path to the NBA, how it felt to become the league’s “patient zero” for COVID-19, and his relationship with Donovan Mitchell, among other topics. “We had conversations as grown men, and we told each other what we had on our minds,” Gobert said of mending his relationship with Mitchell. “And the end of the conversation was that our goal was to win a championship together and, you know, I thought it was really mature from both of us to come out of the conversation like that.”

Central Notes: Rose, Hayes, Osman, Pacers, Wright, Gafford

Derrick Rose is eager to mentor Pistons lottery pick Killian Hayes, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Rose, who is entering his walk year, plans to make Hayes “uncomfortable” in camp to get the French point guard prepared for the rigors of the NBA. “My job is to push him and to groom him,” Rose said. “Coming from overseas, guys are going to try to play aggressive with him, so it’s my job to play aggressive on him throughout this whole camp so when he gets in a game he won’t feel that much pressure.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers’ small forward starting job is up for grabs, as Chris Fedor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer details. Rookie Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman and Dylan Windler are the candidates, with Osman trying to holding onto the spot he’s occupied over the past two seasons. “Minutes have to be earned,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “You’ve got to earn everything here.”
  • The Pacers won’t have fans for their December home games but they’re hoping that changes as early as January, according to a team press release. Pacers Sports & Entertainment’s statement read in part, “We look forward to having fans back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in January, and we will provide updates in the near future.”
  • Guard Delon Wright wanted to rejoin Dwane Casey for the last two or three years, Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press tweets. Wright was traded last month to the Pistons, where he’ll be coached once again by Casey. Wright played three-and-a-half seasons with Toronto – mostly under Casey – before he was dealt to Memphis in February 2019. Wright thought he might get traded to Detroit before he wound up with the Grizzlies. He played for Dallas last season.
  • Bulls big man Daniel Gafford said he contacted former coach Jim Boylen to “clear the air” after Gafford made some remarks this summer criticizing Boylen’s personality and coaching methods, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “I had contact with Jim, just made sure I cleared the air that it wasn’t anything intentional, that I was just trying to bash him or anything like that,’’ Gafford said. “It was nothing like that at all. … That was just basically constructive criticism, in my opinion.”

Bulls’ Donovan Overhauling Coaching Staff

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has informed multiple assistant coaches still under contract with the team that they won’t be part of his staff for the 2020/21 season, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Roy Rogers, Dean Cooper, and Nate Loenser won’t be returning to to the club after working on Jim Boylen‘s staff last season, Johnson reports. Karen Stack Umlauf has also been let go, per an official announcement from the Bulls.

“I appreciate the time that I was able to spend with Dean, Nate, Roy and Karen. I really want to thank all of them for their service and commitment to the Chicago Bulls,” Donovan said in a statement. “This is the tough side to our business, and I wish all of them the best moving forward.”

Rogers had only completed one season on his three-year deal and Loenser had his team option for 2020/21 exercised in the spring, but Bulls ownership continues to give the team’s new decision-makers the green light to make changes even if they’ll cost the organization some money, per Johnson.

It’s possible the Bulls will make additional changes to their coaching staff, but for now it sounds as if Chris Fleming is sticking around. Fleming worked with new Bulls executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas in Denver during the 2015/16 season, and Johnson has previously reported that there’s a “trust factor” between the two men.

It remains to be seen who will join Donovan’s revamped staff in Chicago, but Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times speculates that Maurice Cheeks could be a candidate. Cheeks is a Chicago native and has been an assistant under Donovan for the last five years in Oklahoma City.

Central Notes: Bulls, Boylen, Wood, Pistons, Turner

Speaking to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago following his recent dismissal, former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen expressed no hard feelings toward his old team, telling Johnson that he “loved every minute of working for the Bulls” and that he understands why new head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas would want to bring in his own coach.

Boylen also expressed no regrets about his stint in Chicago, noting that Bulls ownership and former head of basketball ops John Paxson asked him to “bring more discipline” to the team. Boylen praised his players for competing hard, citing injuries and a young roster as a couple of the reasons why the club didn’t win more games.

“I don’t worry about people who haven’t coached critiquing me,” Boylen said. “I don’t try to be a doctor.”

Despite Boylen’s comments, reviews of his time with the Bulls weren’t exactly positive. According to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who took a deep dive into the last two seasons in Chicago, Boylen’s tenure was described by multiple people within the organization as “toxic,” with one calling it “a circus” and another referring to it as a “nightmare.”

In Mayberry’s view, Boylen tried to maintain total control of the team with a tough, abrasive style, but “couldn’t get out of his own way.” Boylen’s greatest success during his time as the Bulls’ head coach, according to Mayberry, was “simply getting the job.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago explores which candidates for the Bulls‘ head coaching job are favored by oddsmakers, pointing out that one prominent sportsbook lists Ime Udoka, Adrian Griffin, Kenny Atkinson, and Tyronn Lue as the frontrunners.
  • The Pistons have more options with Christian Wood this fall than simply re-signing him or letting him walk, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic, who digs into how the team could use a sign-and-trade deal to its advantage if Wood wants to join a team without cap room.
  • The rebuilding Pistons should keep a close eye on players coming off two-way contracts, writes Duncan Smith of Forbes. As Forbes explains, under-the-radar free agents like Chris Chiozza are realistic targets for Detroit and could help the club make the most of its cap space.
  • Pacers big man Myles Turner recently spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about life on the Disney World campus, Indiana’s playoff outlook, Victor Oladipo‘s 2021 free agency, and several other topics.

Bulls Notes: Boylen, Silas, Vanterpool, Assistants

More than five months after he last coached a game for the Bulls, Jim Boylen was relieved of his duties on Friday morning, with the team announcing it will launch a formal search to identify and hire a new permanent head coach.

A source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter links) that Boylen displayed some behavior that was considered “detrimental to the organization” during his tenure with the team, including a verbal run-in with a team chef.

While Cowley’s report suggests those incidents may have played a part in the Bulls’ decision to move on from its head coach, head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a conference call today that “it was strictly a basketball decision” to fire Boylen, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) adds another name to the list of potential candidates for the Bulls’ head coaching job, reporting that Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas is expected to receive consideration. Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool is also a name to watch, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). We’re keeping tabs on all the rumored candidates right here.
  • According to Karnisovas, the Bulls will be seeking a head coach who “puts the relationship with players first” and is “a good communicator,” tweets Eric Woodyard of ESPN. The Bulls exec added that there’s no set timeline to finalize a hire.
  • The Bulls’ assistant coaches are expected to remain in place for now and can continue working with individual players at the team facility, notes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As Woj points out, top assistants Chris Fleming and Roy Rogers are under contract beyond this season.

Bulls Fire Head Coach Jim Boylen

The Bulls have parted ways with head coach Jim Boylen, announcing today in a press release that he has been relieved of his duties. A search for the team’s next head coach will begin immediately, according to the release.

“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,” new executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. “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.”

Boylen, who took the reins from Fred Hoiberg during the 2018/19 season, led the Bulls to an underwhelming 39-84 (.317) record during his brief tenure as head coach and didn’t always see eye-to-eye with his players, including standout guard Zach LaVine.

When Karnisovas took over as Chicago’s new head of basketball operations in the spring, he indicated that he wanted to take some time to evaluate Boylen, though he hasn’t had many opportunities to do so in recent months. The Bulls weren’t invited to the NBA’s 22-team restart in Orlando, and still haven’t approved organized practices or scrimmages for the eight teams left out, leaving those clubs to conduct individual workouts this summer.

Reports dating back to May have suggested that Karnisovas and new GM Marc Eversley were leaning toward making a change, but more recent reports cast doubt on that plan, suggesting that financial factors could motivate the team to stick with Boylen. Given today’s news, it appears Bulls ownership is on board with eating the remainder of Boylen’s modest contract.

Sixers assistant Ime Udoka and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin have previously been cited as possible candidates to become the Bulls’ next head coach. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) adds a few more names to that list of potential targets, suggesting that Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, and former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson are expected to receive consideration as well.

Chicago will be the second team to conduct a formal head coaching search in 2020, joining the Knicks, who hired Tom Thibodeau last month. The Nets also intend to launch a search for a permanent head coach when their season ends, with the Rockets, Pelicans, and Sixers among the other teams worth keeping an eye on.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Notes: Offseason, Boylen, MPJ-Carter Draft, Delete Eight

New Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has plenty of interesting choices to make with regards to team personnel on both the court and on the bench during the 2020 offseason. Bobby Marks of ESPN Insider examines some of the key issues Karnisovas should address.

The future of embattled head coach Jim Boylen has been the hottest topic of speculation for Bulls fans since the hiring of Karnisovas earlier this year. Boylen’s disappointing 39-84 record has been partly affected by several player injuries, including those afflicting former lottery picks Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., but Marks addresses just how much blame for the team’s poor finishes during the last two seasons should be placed on those absences as opposed to Boylen’s coaching approach.

The possible fates of restricted free agent Kris Dunn and leading scorer Zach LaVine during this crucial Bulls offseason are also discussed.

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Boylen’s status is also addressed in a fairly comprehensive recent Bulls mailbag from NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. Johnson reiterates that Karnisovas apparently has the full green light from team owner Jerry Reinsdorf to replace Boylen, but that Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley have been asked by ownership to “take time to get to know” the coach before making a decision. Boylen is earning $1.6MM annually, making him one of the most affordable head coaches in the NBA.
  • Nuggets rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. has been enjoying a coming-out party within the NBA’s Orlando restart campus. Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago takes a look at the player the Bulls passed over in favor of Wendell Carter Jr. with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Porter is averaging 22 PPG and 8.6 RPG, while shooting 55.1% from the field (including 42.2% from long range and 93.1% from the charity stripe) in Orlando. Porter’s checkered injury history gave Chicago pause at the time, and Schaefer contends that Carter’s promising future as a passing big man on the cusp of averaging a double-double in scoring and rebounding means the jury on the selection is still out.
  • The Bulls rank among just eight teams bad enough to miss the NBA’s 22-squad Orlando restart. As we discussed previously, talks remain ongoing about potentially keeping the so-called “Delete Eight” clubs active. One concept touched upon during recent conference call involves bringing the Bulls and the other underperforming teams to Orlando after the first round of the NBA playoffs, when only eight of the original 22 teams would remain on the Disney World campus. However, it’s not clear whether it has gained any traction with the NBPA.

NBA Flexible With Start Of Next Season

The NBA’s experiment at the Disney World campus continues to be a success, with no COVID-19 cases reported in the latest round of testing, but uncertainty still surrounds the start of next season, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The league office is telling teams that the priority will be to play a full 82-game schedule and to have fans present for as many of those games as possible. December 1 has been set as a tentative start date, but the league is willing to be flexible if it would result in more games with paying customers. Sources tell Wojnarowski that Martin Luther King Day, January 18, is being considered for opening night and February and March are realistic as well.

[RELATED: Financial, Logistical Uncertainty Looms Over 2020/21 NBA Season]

It’s also possible that some NBA cities will be able to host large crowds by winter, while others still have high virus rates. Woj says conversations have been held regarding neutral-site games or having teams temporarily move to non-NBA markets where fans could attend. Canada’s borders may still be closed to U.S. traveling parties when the season begins, forcing the Raptors to move their operations to an American city.

The NBA doesn’t plan to repeat the “bubble” concept with 22 teams, but sources say several teams could be sent to regional sites for roughly a month at a time to play games. They would then go home to train for about two weeks before moving onto the next site. Orlando is being considered as one of the cities, along with Las Vegas, which was a finalist to host this year’s restart.

Wojnarowski shares a few more tidbits from Orlando:

  • There’s growing skepticism that next season can be completed in time for NBA players to take part in the Olympics. However, one idea being discussed is a month-long midseason break similar to what the NHL has done for the Winter Olympics.
  • The reactions of other teams fighting for the eighth and ninth seeds in the Western Conference ranged from “displeased” to “livid” regarding Utah’s decision to rest four starters Friday in a loss to the Spurs. San Antonio is among six closely bunched teams that are fighting to reach the postseason, and there are concerns that the Jazz may do the same thing when they face the Spurs again in their final reseeding game. The league has warned teams about preserving the integrity of the games, but it is limited in what it can do about players sitting out.
  • The players union doesn’t support a plan to bring the eight idle teams to Orlando once the first group leaves the WDW campus. Sources tell Wojnarowski that the “inevitable solution” will be voluntary workouts at team facilities. The NBPA won’t consent to making those workouts mandatory.
  • Jacque Vaughn has been assured he will get “significant consideration” in the Nets‘ search for a new coach, which is expected to begin once Brooklyn is eliminated from the playoffs. In Chicago, the new management team is taking its time in evaluating Jim Boylen’s coaching future. Several prominent assistants who would be considered for the job are in Orlando, so there’s no rush to make a move, Wojnarowski adds.

Growing Momentum For Jim Boylen To Keep Job?

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.

Central Notes: T. Young, Bledsoe, Karnisovas, Boylen

While there has been quite a bit of speculation that high-scoring Zach LaVine could wind up on the trading block, the Chicago player considered most readily available is actually veteran forward Thaddeus Young, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports.

Young averaged 10.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 24.9 MPG in his first year with the Bulls, all career lows aside from his rookie season, and he was unhappy with his role. Young is guaranteed $13.545MM next season, but the final year of his contract in 2021/22 is only partially guaranteed.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe returned to practice Thursday. However, while coach Mike Budenholzer said Bledsoe “looked great,” he didn’t play in today’s scrimmage against the Kings. Bledsoe tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the team’s arrival in Orlando and flew to the campus on Wednesday.
  • New Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas hasn’t pushed ownership for a coaching change and that seems like a wise move, Johnson opines. Jim Boylen seems open to tweaking his offensive system and management has sought his input on player development strategies, Johnson continues. Karnisovas has a good working relationship with Boylen’s staff, Johnson adds.
  • The Athletic’s John Hollinger takes an opposing viewpoint. He sees the lack of progress in the Bulls’ head coaching search as a head-scratcher, believing that Boylen isn’t Karnisovas’ first choice. It’s possible that Chicago’s owners simply doesn’t want to pay off Boylen and then dole out more money for a new head coach, or that the delayed start of next season has made them procrastinate. But the franchise is isn’t giving the next coach a chance to hit the ground running this winter, Hollinger adds.