Jim Boylen

Bulls Notes: Parker, Boylen, Alkins

Jabari Parker is refusing to lash out at the Bulls, even though he finds himself on the trading block after being pulled from the rotation, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Parker’s situation in Chicago soured quickly after he joined the team as a free agent in July. New coach Jim Boylen reportedly cites poor effort on defense and a selfish attitude on offense as the basis for his decisions, but Parker doesn’t want to get caught up in a war of words.

“I chose to come here,” Parker said. “I did everything I can to prove that I belong here. And I’m going to continue to do that. My job is to be ready to be on the court. My agent’s job is to just be my defense and be that voice for me that I’m not able to say.”

Parker is open to a deal, and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is working with the team to resolve the situation. According to Johnson, the Bulls began seeking trade partners well before restrictions were lifted on newly signed free agents yesterday.

“It’s not easy,” Boylen said. “I’ve been direct and honest with him about what I expect and what I hope he can continue to work on.”

There’s more this morning out of Chicago:

  • The Heat, Suns, Cavaliers and Hawks are teams that might be good fits for Parker, writes Frank Urbina of HoopsHype.
  • Boylen had a strong supporter in Spurs coach Gregg Popovich even before the Bulls’ surprising win in San Antonio last night, Johnson adds in the same story. Boylen, who has been under fire since replacing Fred Hoiberg two weeks ago, spent two years as an assistant with the Spurs and was with the team when it won the 2014 NBA title. “He’s a pretty straightforward, honest individual, and he’ll do it the way he thinks is best for that group,” Popovich said. “And he’ll be fair, he’ll be demanding, and he will try to make everything clear so whatever system he wants to employ will get across. I’ve learned as much from him as he’s learned from us here.”
  • If there’s a bright side to Zach LaVine‘s injury, it gives the Bulls a chance to evaluate rookie Rawle Alkins, notes Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. Alkins signed a two-way contract this summer and has spent the season in the G League at Windy City, where he is averaging 15.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He will be called up in time for tomorrow night’s game, tweets Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Central Notes: Pistons, Dotson, Boylen, Pacers

Following up on conflicting reports about the Pistons‘ apparent interest in Damyean Dotson, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News confirms (via Twitter) that Detroit has expressed interest in trading for the Knicks‘ swingman. It’s not clear how enthusiastic New York would be about moving Dotson, but both the Pistons and Nets have been linked to him within the last couple weeks.

While the Pistons could use a little more stability on the wing, Bondy’s report, which noted that Luke Kennard hadn’t yet found a fit in Dwane Casey‘s system, came just hours before Kennard went off for a career-high 28 points on Monday night. If the 2017 lottery pick can get it going, Detroit’s need for reinforcements figures to be less urgent.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In the wake of Monday’s report that Bulls players contacted the National Basketball Players Association of Jim Boylen‘s coaching tactics, a front office sources stressed to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the team’s new head coach is “safe.” That source also had no complaints about what happened over the weekend: “Jim handled [Sunday] really well. It was a teachable moment for our young guys.”
  • Indiana has turned Victor Oladipo‘s absence into a positive, with several Pacers playing their best ball of the season while Oladipo has been sidelined, writes Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. With Oladipo on the verge of returning, the Pacers will certainly be happy to welcome him back, but they’ll need to make some tweaks to their rotation to accommodate him, says Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.
  • Rodney Hood and Alec Burks were traded from the Jazz to the Cavaliers in separate deals, with Donovan Mitchell‘s emergence in Utah playing a major part in the change in their career paths. Joe Vardon of The Athletic spoke to both Hood and Burks about adjusting to Cleveland and what comes next for them.

Bulls Considering Leadership Committee

The Bulls discussed forming a leadership committee after this weekend’s incidents involving new coach Jim Boylen, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. If it happens, committee members will help to foster communication and mitigate disputes that arise between players and coaches.

Bulls players reacted angrily after Boylen, who took over for Fred Hoiberg last week, scheduled a Sunday practice in the midst of a three-game stretch in four nights. Boylen has been holding strenuous practice sessions since becoming head coach, and players objected to the additional wear and tear in the midst of a difficult part of the schedule.

Some players discussed boycotting Sunday’s session, but Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez helped to quell that rebellion. All the players showed up, but there was no practice, just two meetings — one involving just players and another between players and coaches with team president John Paxson and GM Gar Forman present.

Boylen reportedly has the full support of management in his get-tough approach with the team. However, he explained in the second meeting that he wasn’t intending to hold a hard practice on Sunday and stressed to players that they need to learn to trust him.

Zach LaVine told the ESPN writers he met one-on-one with Boylen and tried to explain his perspective.

“You just want to be real with people,” LaVine said. “There shouldn’t be any clouds. I think of myself as one of the leaders on the team. I just wanted to voice my opinion to them. This is a business, this isn’t a dictatorship. We are all grown men, so everybody has a voice.”

Bulls Players Reached Out To NBPA About Boylen’s Tactics

It was an odd weekend for the Bulls, who picked up a rare win on Friday, suffered the worst loss in team history on Saturday, then held a pair of meetings on Sunday in lieu of the practice that head coach Jim Boylen had reportedly planned. As we relayed this morning, some Bulls players had originally wanted to skip Sunday’s practice altogether, discussing the idea beforehand in a group chat, but Robin Lopez and Lauri Markkanen were among those who convinced everyone to show up and voice their concerns.

Speaking today to reporters, including K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), Boylen pushed back on the idea that his team – as a whole – was opposed to practicing on Sunday.

“That is not true that ‘they’ didn’t want to have practice. ‘They’ means everybody. That is not true. I don’t like that narrative,” Boylen said, per Johnson. “The truth is we had a couple guys who thought a Sunday practice was excessive after the week we had. They have to trust me that if I bring them in to practice, I’m going to manage their legs. They didn’t understand that. So I explained to them that you have to trust me that I’m going to do what’s best for this team. What was best was coming in, being together and growing.”

As Johnson explains (via Twitter), it’s not as if Boylen’s tactics are at odds with what Bulls ownership and management wants from him — while his coaching style definitely reflects his personality, Boylen also has an organizational mandate to push his players hard, says Johnson. The head coach said as much on Monday, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times relays.

“My job, I tell them this and you guys have heard me say this, is to try and push our guys to a place they can’t take themselves,” Boylen said. “That’s pushing them outside their comfort zone. That’s what my job is, that’s what the Reinsdorfs are paying me for. I take that very seriously, so I explained that to them.”

As Boylen doubles down on his hard-nosed approach to the head coaching job, Vincent Goodwill and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports report that Bulls players contacted the National Basketball Players Association on Sunday about Boylen’s tactics. Having already gone through three two-and-a-half hour practices since Boylen took over last Monday, the players reached out to the union when it appeared that another grueling practice was on tap for Sunday following a back-to-back set.

Haynes and Goodwill passed along several more fascinating tidbits on the situation in Chicago. We’ll round up a number of the highlights here:

  • Following Saturday’s game, one of the team’s veterans said – in a group text with his teammates – that if anyone showed up to Sunday’s practice, the vet would personally fine them, according to Haynes and Goodwill. Some players agreed, but with Boylen aware of the plan and refusing to relent, the players ultimately decided to show up, even though they had no intention of practicing.
  • Lopez, who wasn’t part of the initial group chat, played a major role in getting the players to back down, per Yahoo’s report. The veteran center also said today that the team “came out the better for it” after Sunday’s meetings, but admitted that he wished Fred Hoiberg had been given the chance to coach a fully healthy roster this season, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.com.
  • Sources close to Boylen tell Haynes and Goodwill that the coach wasn’t actually planning to conduct a rigorous practice on Sunday. K.C. Johnson previously reported the same thing, writing that Boylen simply planned to have his players watch film and get some shots up. It’s not clear whether or not that’s revisionist history, considering Boylen said on Saturday night that he pulled his players early on Saturday in a “premeditated” move so that they’d be able to practice on Sunday.
  • Boylen, who has had “numerous verbal confrontations” with Bulls players since the start of the 2018/19 season, went against the usual postgame protocol by making players watch film immediately after last Tuesday’s loss to Indiana. Sources tell Haynes and Goodwill that Bulls players felt like they were being treated like high school athletes, and felt further disrespected when Boylen told the media later the players had to get in better shape.
  • When the Bulls told Boylen on Sunday that they weren’t practicing, Zach LaVine and Justin Holiday were the “most vocal,” sources tell Haynes and Goodwill. Sensing “turmoil” in Chicago, some teams have begun looking into Holiday’s availability, though it’s not yet clear if the Bulls will engage in trade talks, according to Haynes and Goodwill. Previous reports have suggested Holiday, who is on an expiring contract, should be available.
  • Defending his decision to sub out all five starters at once during Saturday’s game, Boylen cited Gregg Popovich and the Spurs when speaking with his team on Sunday. According to Haynes and Goodwill, one player responded by telling Boylen, in essence, that the Bulls “aren’t the Spurs and, more importantly, he isn’t Popovich.”

Latest Details On Bulls’ Sunday Meetings

As we relayed on Sunday, the Bulls held a pair of meetings on Sunday following the worst loss in franchise history on Saturday, with the players participating in the first meeting before being joined by the coaches for the second one. K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune and Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic have since provided more details on what happened on Sunday, reporting that those meetings were a compromise of sorts.

As Johnson and Mayberry explain, new head coach Jim Boylen pulled his starters early on Saturday in a “premeditated” move, vowing to put the team through another grueling practice on Sunday. Having played back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, Bulls players pushed back against the idea of another intense practice on Sunday, using a team-wide group text to discuss the possibility of boycotting that practice, or showing up at the team facility together and then walking out.

However, Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez expressed concern about the “unprofessionalism” of a potential boycott, sources tell Mayberry. Veteran Bulls were also concerned about the impact that a major act of rebellion could have on the club’s younger, less established players, Mayberry adds. Ultimately, the players decided to show up and voice their concerns with Boylen and his staff, which led to the compromise — the practice didn’t happen, but the two meetings did.

Boylen’s initially-stated desire to push the Bulls hard again on Sunday after back-to-back games reflects the approach he has taken since replacing Fred Hoiberg as the team’s head coach a week ago. As Mayberry details, Boylen has been putting the Bulls through long, rigorous practices since taking over last Monday.

Last Tuesday, for instance, according to Mayberry, the team’s shootaround in Indianapolis exceeded 90 minutes. After the Bulls lost to the Pacers that night, Boylen immediately made players watch clips of their turnovers and poor defensive rebounding, then emerged from the locker room to tell reporters that his players needed to improve their conditioning and toughness.

“We needed to get a lot of stuff off our chest and be transparent,” Zach LaVine said on Sunday, according to Johnson. “I don’t think the players’ toughness should ever be questioned. I think that’s on us. I think that is a little bit of what we discussed in our meeting.”

For his part, Boylen has shown no regrets about the tactics he has taken, and believes they’re sending the right message to his players.

“They’re learning how I operate,” Boylen said, per Mayberry. “They’re learning what I value. And if I think a group out there isn’t doing what they need to be doing as a collective unit, I’m going to sub. Maybe I’ll sub three. Maybe I’ll sub five. What they have to understand is there are obligations and options. And we’re cleaning up what goes on. You’re obligated to do the things I ask them to do. And they’re obligated to play the right way. And when they’re not, my job is to try to fix that.”

When they announced last week that he would replace Hoiberg, the Bulls didn’t give Boylen the interim tag, suggesting they expect him to finish out the season and perhaps even remain in the head coaching role in 2019/20 and beyond. Despite a rocky start, there’s no indication the franchise won’t stick to that plan, so it’s in the Bulls’ best interests to make sure that the players and their coach are on the same page. After Sunday’s meetings, both sides seemed a little more comfortable, at least for now.

“Nobody is going to make more mistakes than I do,” Boylen said, per Johnson. “I have a lot of responsibility and make a lot of decisions. I’m not going to get them all right. But this is not a hobby for me. We’re going to keep working and grinding and communicating and hugging and crying and laughing and moving forward.”

Bulls Hold Meeting Following Blowout Loss

The Bulls held a players-only meeting on Sunday, just one day removed from a 133-77 blowout loss to the Celtics at home, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The coaching staff eventually joined the players to discuss the team’s status, with the meeting reportedly being led by Zach LaVine and Justin Holiday.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen refuted claims that players called for the meeting, despite multiple players conveying otherwise, Andrews reported in a separate tweet. The mixed messages come just one week after Boylen was promoted to head coach.

Boylen is respected across the league and is known as a longtime assistant who’s spent time on several NBA teams, including seasons under Gregg Popovich on the Spurs from 2013-15. He’s pushed his players to tough standards during long practices and expects the very best out of each of them.

“We’ve had some running . . . some running,” Zach LaVine said Friday, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s OK. [Boylen] wants to make his mark. You have to understand that. I think things will slow up as the season goes on.”

In some ways, Boylen’s approach resembles the hard-nosed, competitive nature that former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had. It can rub some players the wrong way, but it can also lead to success with the right pieces in place.

“Because I’m direct and honest, and they’re going to know exactly where they stand in every moment, every day,” Boylen said, according to Cowley. “The great guys I worked for, that’s what they do, and that’s what I want to do. These guys know that. They know how I operate, and I’ve operated that way since I’ve been here. Direct and honest. Nobody likes to be told the truth when it’s not good for them, but at the end of the day, they know deep down inside that it’s what they needed to hear.”

Boylen’s decision to pull his starting five less than three minutes into the second half on Saturday raised some eyebrows, but he ultimately felt the team wasn’t giving an acceptable effort.

“I think your play is embarrassing,” Boylen said after the game, according to Andrews. “… I worked for [Spurs head coach] Gregg Popovich. He subbed five guys a ton of times. Nobody says a word to him about it. He felt that was best for the team. I felt that was best for the team where we were at. I wanted to give the other guys a chance to see if they could right the ship a little bit. If I don’t like the five guys out there, if I don’t like the combination, I’m going to look at a new combination. Take them all out, let them sit there and think about it.”

The Bulls have played without Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis, both of whom are nursing injuries, but Boylen expects the team to work together and give a better effort going forward. Sunday’s extensive meeting allowed those on both sides to state their grievances and clear the air.

“I thought it was very productive,” center Wendell Carter Jr. said, as relayed by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “The big, main topic for that whole meeting was being truthfully honest and direct. I feel like everybody was very direct with one another, very honest. Everybody told each other how we really, really feel about what happened last night, how we feel about each other in terms of the team, how we feel about everybody as a whole.”

Chicago has games against the Kings, Magic and Spurs scheduled for the upcoming week. The Bulls hold a 6-21 record (second-worst in the league) through the season’s first 27 games.

Central Notes: Boylen, Smith, Bucks, Pacers

New Bulls coach Jim Boylen is trying to rebuild the struggling team on the fly, explaining his thoughts this past week on where the club stands. Boylen was promoted to head coach two weeks ago when the team suddenly fired Fred Hoiberg.

“My focus is that we’re not where we need to be to compete, and so obviously we want to win but I want us to be at a level where we get the full force of what we do,” Boylen said, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports. “I don’t think our conditioning allows us to do that.

“We’re on the first floor, We’re on ‘A.’ I’d like us to get to ‘D’ and ‘E.’ Maybe in two weeks we’ll see. We can’t get to ‘D’ and ‘E’ if we’re not in shape.”

These comments from Boylen came before his team lost 133-77 against the Celtics on Saturday, giving Boston its largest margin of victory in franchise history. Boylen ripped his team’s effort after the game, clearly trying to motivate his young squad and change their mindsets. The team held a lengthy meeting on Sunday to discuss their play.

Boylen, a veteran assistant with several NBA teams, has the opportunity to prove to management that he deserves to coach past this season. The Bulls are currently 6-21 and have lost eight of their last 10 games.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • Pistons guard Ish Smith is said to be drawing interest on the trade market, according to Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Smith is expected to miss roughly three to six weeks with a right adductor muscle tear. Before getting injured, Smith was averaging 9.2 points and three assists per contest.
  • Steve Aschburner of NBA.com stresses the importance of retaining Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton in free agency for the Bucks, with both talents playing key roles on the team around Giannis Antetokounmpo this season. “It is our mission statement,” Bucks GM Jon Horst said, explaining the importance of building around Antetokounmpo. “What Giannis means to our team, our franchise, our city, our state kind of goes beyond words. We have to make the most of the opportunity to find and build things that fit with him.” Milwaukee is 16-8 on the season and holds the No. 2 spot out East, sporting an impressive 12-3 record at home.
  • The Pacers have found strength in numbers this season, using a collective approach to overcome the loss of All-Star Victor Oladipo, writes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Oladipo has missed the team’s last 10 games to injury, but the Pacers are 6-4 this season without him. Last season, Indiana held a 0-7 record in games Oladipo missed.

Bulls Notes: Record Loss, Hoiberg, Dunn, Arcidiacono

New Bulls coach Jim Boylen didn’t hold back his criticism after Saturday’s 56-point loss to the Celtics, the worst defeat in franchise history, relays Malika Andrews of ESPN.

“I think your play is embarrassing,” said Boylen, who pulled his five starters for the night three minutes into the third quarter. “… I worked for [Spurs head coach] Gregg Popovich. He subbed five guys a ton of times. Nobody says a word to him about it. He felt that was best for the team. I felt that was best for the team where we were at. I wanted to give the other guys a chance to see if they could right the ship a little bit. If I don’t like the five guys out there, if I don’t like the combination, I’m going to look at a new combination. Take them all out, let them sit there and think about it.”

There was plenty to think about, and none of it was good. Chicago fell behind 17-0 and went more than six minutes of the first quarter without scoring. The deficit was 32 points when Boylen decided to pull Ryan Arcidiacono, Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, who combined for 27 points on the night, the lowest total for a Bulls starting lineup in 11 years. Fans booed loudly throughout the game as the team fell to 6-21.

“We don’t have that internal toughness yet to play at this level consistently,” Boylen said afterward.

There’s more this morning from Chicago:

  • Bulls management claims that former coach Fred Hoiberg was dismissed because he lost his influence with his players, but the real reason was a deteriorating relationship with GM Gar Forman, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Bobby Portis was the latest player to come to Hoiberg’s defense Saturday. “He’s a players’ coach, lets guys go out there and do what they do, get better,” Portis said. “Me, personally, he helped me develop my game a lot, so I credit a lot of things toward him. To say that he lost the respect of the locker room, I don’t think that’s a good way to put it.’’
  • Portis and Kris Dunn are both close to returning from knee injuries, although neither played Saturday. Dunn’s return will mark a critical time in his career, as he becomes eligible for a rookie contract extension at the end of the season, Cowley notes in a separate story. Dunn has been effective since coming to Chicago last year, but it’s not clear if the front office is fully invested in him as the point guard of the future. Cowley states that the team had a private workout with Trae Young before the draft and considered taking Collin Sexton with the seventh pick before opting for Carter.
  • Arcidiacono’s high-energy game has made him an effective fill-in during Dunn’s absence, writes Sam Smith of NBA.com.

Central Notes: Pistons, Boylen, Evans, Cavs

Don’t expect the Pistons to move either Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson anytime soon, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes in a mailbag.

As Beard explains, Detroit views Drummond as a long-term core piece rather than a trade chip. And while Jackson may not be quite on that same level, he’s probably a more valuable asset to the Pistons than he would be to another team, according to Beard, who expects Detroit to “ride through Jackson’s contract.” Drummond and Jackson can both become free agents as early as 2020, though Drummond has a $28.75MM player option for 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes an interesting, detailed look at how Jim Boylen has dove head-first into his new job as the Bulls‘ head coach this week, meeting individually with all his players after taking the reins from Fred Hoiberg.
  • As his first season with the Pacers progresses, Tyreke Evans continues to adjust to a new role and new expectations, as Mark Montieth of Pacers.com writes. Evans, who inked a one-year deal to play in Indiana, has been moved to the starting lineup during Victor Oladipo‘s absence but is still struggling to produce consistently.
  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson has been find $15K by the NBA for making an inappropriate gesture toward a fan earlier this week, the league announced today in a press release. Thompson flipped off some Brooklyn hecklers in the wake of the Cavs’ win over the Nets on Monday.
  • Speaking of that Cavaliers win over Brooklyn, head coach Larry Drew – who removed rookie Collin Sexton from the lineup down the stretch in that game – explained later that he doesn’t believe sitting Sexton in situations like that will stunt the youngster’s development. “You can learn just as much sitting over there watching, so you can kind of get a feel and see what other guys are doing,” Drew said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “But it’s a long season and we’re going to be in a lot of different situations where he’s going to be allowed to experience some of this stuff.”

Bulls Notes: Hoiberg, Boylen, LaVine, R. Brown

Within an article on Fred Hoiberg‘s dismissal, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic passes along several interesting tidbits, reporting that multiple league sources said Hoiberg had lost the team, with Bulls players no longer believing in his system.

Those players were also “increasingly emboldened” to challenge the head coach’s authority, according to Mayberry, who cites specific instances where Jabari Parker and Antonio Blakeney undermined Hoiberg and weren’t reprimanded. Zach LaVine was also essentially given “carte blanche” by Hoiberg to get away with whatever he wanted, writes Mayberry.

One source told Mayberry that Jim Boylen had essentially been the Bulls’ de facto coach in the early part of this season, though a team source disputed that idea, explaining that Hoiberg “coached his desired portions and delegated other aspects to Boylen.” Still, that team source acknowledged that Boylen was “always the bad cop,” with Mayberry suggesting that the players respected and responded more to Boylen’s personality.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • While Boylen initially said that he expected the rest of the Bulls’ assistants to remain on the staff, the team announced in a press release on Tuesday that assistant coach Randy Brown had resigned. According to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter links), Boylen confirmed that Brown stepped down after being asked to take on a different role — Brown would have moved behind the bench and would have had fewer in-game duties, though his out-of-game responsibilities would have increased.
  • Boylen spoke this week about his goal to “build [the Bulls’] culture in a positive way” and explained why he believes he’s the right man for the club’s head coaching job, as Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago details. Meanwhile, Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago explored how the Bulls’ offense and rotations figured to change under Boylen.
  • In a pair of pieces for ESPN.com, Malika Andrews weighed in on why Hoiberg failed to have success in Chicago, and relayed some comments from Bulls players on the club’s coaching change. According to Andrews, Zach LaVine said on Tuesday that he sent a text message to Hoiberg thanking him for the hard work he put in with the Bulls. “At the end of the day, Fred is a great dude and you respect that,” LaVine said. “You know he did a good job here. He was under some circumstances that he can’t control.”