New-look Bulls front office playing the long game on coaching change

New-look Bulls front office playing the long game on coaching change

For several decades, the Bulls have been tone deaf to the reputation they have in the treatment of head coaches. The hiring of a front office with outsiders like Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley might be the perfect remedy for that, even if the Jim Boylen coaching change drags on.

It is not a good look.

And it hasn’t been for a few decades.

Put it this way: The Bulls’ two greatest coaches – Phil Jackson and Tom Thibodeau – both left the organization in less than harmonious circumstances.

Heck, they fired Scott Skiles and Tim Floyd on Christmas Eve.

Teams break up with coaches, it’s inevitable. The Bulls, however, seem to take it to a different level in their treatment of the head coaching position. It’s almost as if that coaching chair is a mere commodity to be discarded at any time. Not just set on the curb for pick-up, either. Gas, match, ignite.

So while the fan base impatiently waits for the firing of current coach Jim Boylen, a little perspective is needed.

Organizationally, the Bulls cannot keep treating coaches – and really even former players – with such combustion. The new front office is not tone deaf to that history.

So if executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas wants to take his time with the handling of Boylen and the rest of the staff, it has to be viewed as a positive. A step forward in the progression of what this franchise wants to be.

If they are willing to give a coach that has a .317 winning percentage in 123 games like Boylen does, a fair and real assessment, well, how would they treat a coach that is actually winning games and making playoff runs?

That will carry weight.

Maybe not right away, but eventually.

Just like players, coaches talk, and the talk around the Bulls for years has been they don’t just fire you, they try and assassinate your character to justify the move.

A practice that has to stop.

The Sun-Times has reported for weeks that Boylen’s fate was all but sealed, with Karnisovas and new general manager Marc Eversley getting enough mixed feedback from current players and other personnel on Boylen to make the case that they want their own guy in that coaching seat for the 2020-21 campaign.

Both Michael and Jerry Reinsdorf have offered support for Boylen, but multiple sources have stressed that ownership has a high trust factor in Karnisovas & Co. and will allow them to have the final say on the basketball side of things.

Both Zach LaVine and veteran Thaddeus Young spoke to the media in a Zoom meeting Friday, and each played politician with the Boylen question.

“I’m going to keep the same thing that I always have – It’s not for me to judge somebody,’’ LaVine said. “I think [Boylen] goes out there and does his best. I don’t think anyone in this organization or the NBA goes out there and tries to fail.

“Decisions on things like that I leave that up to higher management. That’s not my role in the organization.’’

Young took a similar approach.

“That’s not a question for me to answer,’’ Young said. “Obviously, Jim is very energetic. Probably one of the more energetic coaches I’ve played for.

“My job is to whatever coach we have out there at the time, let him lead and we follow.’’

Now that the Advocate Center is reopened for work and members of the new front office are expected in and out of town over the next few weeks, Karnisovas will have the opportunity to show the Reinsdorfs that he assessed Boylen in person.

With the NBA board of governors voting to move forward with the 22-team restart, and team player representatives approving it on Friday, the Bulls season has officially come to an end so the business of basketball has to continue.

What they do have on their side, however, is time.

Sources have told the Sun-Times that Philadelphia assistant coach Ime Udoka is the front-runner to become the new head coach, with Toronto assistant coach [and former Bulls assistant] Adrian Griffin also right there on the doorstep.

Karnisovas and Eversley are very familiar with both men, and each is more than qualified for the position. It’s a win-win, but it’s also a process.

There’s no Iowa State coach that’s been secretly waiting in the wings for a year or two, there’s no under-handed side deals being made.

For once, the Bulls are actually doing it the right way.

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