Jim Boylen

Stein’s Latest: Pinson, Boban, Hornets, Connelly, Handy

The Mavericks are “determined” to find space on their roster for Theo Pinson next season, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. Pinson appeared in just 19 regular season games in 2021/22 and wasn’t eligible to play in the postseason, but the Mavs view the 26-year-old wing as an important part of the team dynamic in Dallas, Stein explains, noting that center Boban Marjanovic falls into this category too.

Marjanovic has a $3.5MM contract for next season, so the Mavericks will have no problem keeping him around if they want to, but Pinson’s two-way deal is set to expire, making him an unrestricted free agent. Since he’ll have four years of NBA service under his belt, Pinson will no longer be eligible to sign a two-way contract in 2022/23 — he’d have to get a standard contract and be part of the 15-man roster if the Mavs want to retain him.

Pinson was viewed as the unofficial ring leader of the Mavs’ bench mob that earned the team $175K in fines during the playoffs due to its “bench decorum” violations.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • With Darvin Ham off the board, it’s unclear which head coaching candidate is the frontrunner for the Hornets‘ job. However, Stein says there was some “fresh buzz” over the weekend that if Mike D’Antoni is hired by Charlotte, he could bring former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen along with him as an assistant. Stein reported a couple weeks ago that D’Antoni was in a strong position to land the job, but later cast some doubt on that report.
  • Sources with knowledge of the situation tell Stein that the “equity” aspect of Tim Connelly‘s deal with the Timberwolves has been overstated. Stein’s understanding is that Connelly’s contract includes a bonus based on the value of the franchise increasing during his five-year contract, but he doesn’t actually own a stake in the team.
  • It remains to be seen whether veteran assistant Phil Handy will return to the Lakers under Ham, according to Stein, who believes the Nets could be a fit for Handy if he doesn’t stay in L.A. Handy worked well with Kyrie Irving during their Cleveland days, and the Nets have a need on the player development side following Adam Harrington‘s exit, Stein observes.

And-Ones: Boylen, Buyout Market, I. Cousins, Murry

Jim Boylen‘s stint as the Bulls’ head coach was short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful, as he led the team to a record of just 39-84 (.317) from 2018-20. After his tumultuous tenure in Chicago, Boylen was extremely appreciative to get the chance to coach Team USA’s qualifying team for the 2023 World Cup, as he tells Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

“This opportunity, you kind of get your sea legs back. I got my voice back,” Boylen said. “It was a godsend to come and do this, and also, this is the biggest challenge I’ve ever had.”

Boylen has led Team USA to a 3-1 record in the qualifiers to date, picking up wins in February over Puerto Rico and Mexico. There are four more qualifying windows to come, with the next one scheduled for June.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • When many of the top players available on the 2021 buyout market joined the Nets or Lakers, some league observers and fans pushed for changes that would prevent big-market teams from scooping up veteran talent essentially for free. However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (video link) argues within a recap of 2022’s relatively quiet buyout market that the impact of buyout signings is generally overstated — none of last year’s moves were difference-makers and it’s unlikely that any of this year’s will be either, says Marks.
  • Former Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins has signed an NBA G League contract and is joining the Maine Celtics, according to our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Cousins was a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, but has yet to appear in a regular season NBA game, having spent most of his professional career in Europe.
  • One of the former NBA players who had been playing in Ukraine this season, Toure’ Murry spoke to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today about his stressful experience leaving the country following Russia’s invasion last month. “There was risk of going to the Poland border and getting sent back. There were no guarantees. So we took a leap of faith going through Romania,” said Murray, explaining that he was eventually able to get a train to Bucharest, a flight to Amsterdam, and then a flight home to Houston. “It worked out in terms of getting across the border. But going through the situation, we had no idea if we would get out.”

And-Ones: Boylen, Team USA, Stephenson, Exum, More

USA Basketball has announced that former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen will coach Team USA during November’s qualifying games for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. The U.S. team will face Cuba on November 28 and Mexico on November 29.

While NBA players make up Team USA’s roster in the World Cup itself, the qualifiers take place during the NBA season, so the roster is typically made up of G League veterans. After November’s games, the next round of qualifiers will take place in February.

Jeff Van Gundy coached the qualifying team leading up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup before handing things off to Gregg Popovich for the World Cup itself. USA Basketball has yet to announce Popovich’s successor, but Steve Kerr has been identified as a frontrunner. If Kerr gets the job, he’d coach the 2023 team in the World Cup, assuming Boylen’s group clinches a spot in the event.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • NBA veteran Lance Stephenson, who last played in China, has signed an NBA G League contract and will be draft-eligible on October 23, our JD Shaw reports (via Twitter). Stephenson’s last stint in the NBA came during the 2019/20 season with the Lakers. He has appeared in more than 500 career regular season games.
  • The NBA announced on Tuesday that this season’s opening-night rosters feature a total of 109 international players from 39 countries. That includes a record number of players from Canada (18) Germany (seven), and the Bahamas (three). Appropriately, the Raptors lead the league with 10 international players.
  • Within his in-depth look at the players who did and didn’t sign extensions this offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) notes that Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Bulls guard Zach LaVine remain extension-eligible, but would be able to maximize their future earnings by waiting until free agency to sign new deals.
  • Dante Exum, who was waived on Saturday by the Rockets, owns a minority stake in the South East Melbourne Phoenix, and the NBL team’s general manager indicated it would love to him as a player. “If and when Dante decides that the NBL is the right move for him, we of course will do whatever we can do to make that as easy for him as possible,” GM Tommy Greer said (link via NBL.com.au).

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.