After the Bulls 118-112 loss to the Lakers last night, Jim Boylen approached the lectern in the same way his Bulls team walked off the court: frustrated and embarrassed.
The Bulls head coach has managed to add nothing but enemies with a maddening 2-6 start to the regular season – although I guess when five of six total losses come after fourth-quarter leads that should be expected.
However, Boylen’s inability to take responsibility for the team’s faults has been his worst quality. Only two days ago, he stood in front of reporters and blatantly called out his players for their “preparedness” and “effort.” Um, what about yours, Jim?
From an overly aggressive defense to poorly called timeouts to uninspiring rotations, Boylen is slowly turning into the team’s biggest problem. “I’m the head coach of the team, and I’ll take responsibility for the fourth quarter,” Boylen said after the game.
First off, DUH. Secondly, this expression of accountability was brief, and Boylen went on to say some of his most confusing comments to date.
The Lakers opened the final quarter of action on a 16-0 run as Bulls’ starters watched the lead they created slip away. Rather than trying to stop the bleeding with a timeout or substitution, Boylen let his bench players run … and stood by it for truly inexplicable reasons after the game.
When asked about whether he’d put the starters back in earlier, Boylen quickly replied “nope.”
Bad answer, and it gets worse:
“… I’m going to develop this bench, and I’m going to develop this team,” Boylen said. “I’ve got 15 guys to develop. I’m going to play them in those moments, and they’re going to learn to play winning basketball. I’ve never yanked guys. I’ve never done that. I’m not doing that. We’re going to develop that second group, and we’re going to have a bench here in Chicago. And I’m going to keep coaching them.”
If you ask me, the best way to learn winning basketball is by winning basketball games. I guarantee the Bulls starters and bench will prosper from a victory over the title-contending Lakers no matter how it’s earned. The time to develop players isn’t in the crunch-time of a home game in a season where the goal is “playoffs.” And if the goal instead is “development,” then we’re back to square one.
Although Boylen’s actual in-game execution isn’t even the worst part of this, the worst part is him lying and defying everything when he gets a chance to fess up. A first-year head coach in the NBA, he can help man the fire by simply owning up to his mistakes. Would you have done things differently? I think I would have – that sounds a lot different (and supplies more hope) than a blunt and confident “nope.”
And Boylen’s comment about not “yanking guys” is a clear lie. As The Athletic’s John Greenberg pointed out in his postgame column, Boylen yanked the starters last season with 5-man substitutions. We also saw him do this the other night against the Indiana Pacers when he pulled Zach LaVine out of the game for Shaquille Harrison briefly.
As for why Boylen didn’t at least call a timeout during the Lakers’ run, here’s what he had to say:
“Cause we got to figure it out. We got to learn. We got to settle down, and I want to see somebody take control and take over the thing … Timeouts got nothing to do with free-throw line box-outs. Time outs got nothing to do with moving it to the next guy. Doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
Jim Boylen is the epitome of a Dad who throws his son off the boat to teach him to swim. The only difference? He then takes the boat all the way back to the mainland.
Part of “figuring it out” it hearing from the head coach. Part of “settling down” is taking a drink of water and getting a breather. The irony here is that Jim Boylen is waiting for someone to take control, but that’s his job. Did anyone tell him he’s no longer an assistant coach?
I understand he wants someone to step up on the court – it’s needed. But when it’s not happening, it’s Boylen’s job to make it happen.
What a mess.
Listen to the full press conference here: