After Tuesday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards, the media grilled head coach Jim Boylen about not playing rookie Daniel Gafford. A vital piece to this Bulls big man rotation, eventually taking the primary back-up role behind Wendell Carter Jr., Gafford sat on the bench for his second-straight game despite being listed as “available.”
Here’s what Boylen had to say about it (if you can call this saying anything at all):
I … I … I just can’t anymore. https://t.co/8fIqPdTdJl
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) February 12, 2020
For the sake of emphasizing how ridiculous this response from an NBA head coach is, here’s the transcript:
Q: Was he healthy enough to play?
A: I thought that he was available which was good, but I didn’t play him tonight.
Q: Was he healthy enough to play?
A: I didn’t play him tonight, I wasn’t going to play him with our two centers.
Q: Was it because of health or because you had Felicio ahead of him in the rotation?
A: A combination of a couple things.
Q: Is he still wobbly on that ankle?
A: He’s working his way back guys. He’s available, but he’s working his way back.
Q: If he is at 100 percent will he get back ahead of Felicio in the rotation?
A: I don’t know, we’ll figure that out when he gets back to 100 percent.
Note: Shoutout to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson and the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley for pushing Boylen on this topic.
I’m sorry, I’d rather take a charge on a full-speed Anthony Davis than listen to that absurd line of responses again.
After the Bulls’ loss to the 76ers this past weekend, Boylen had a similarly frustrating response about not letting Gafford see the floor, and told reporters: “I liked our rotation tonight and Daniel will get his chance.”
I don’t about you, but considering the Bulls were outscored 62-50 in the paint on Wednesday night, it sure felt like Gafford deserved a “chance.”
To remind folks … Twice this season, Boylen has left Gafford in the game after suffering an apparent injury. The first came during a January 6th game against the Mavericks when opposing head coach Rick Carlisle – not Boylen – ended up calling a timeout so Gafford could check out of the game (yes, that really happened). Then, on February 2nd against the Toronto Raptors, Gafford hit the deck hard grabbing at his ankle near the end of the first quarter. Instead of quickly subbing him out, Boylen left him in the game for another couple of minutes. Even worse, he later put Gafford back into the game with the team down 25 points in the 4th quarter. Absurd.
Yet, after all of this, Boylen proceeds to make it sound like Gafford has to earn his spot back on the court. But why? He has proven to be the team’s second-best rim-protector and, according to Gafford, he’s been practicing in full.
Reporter: "I know you guys haven't had a ton of practice time, but have you been able to practice?"
Gafford: "Yeah, I've been practicing. I've been getting a lot of 3-on-3 in. I've been conditioning, weights, everything. I'm basically trying to stay in shape."
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) February 12, 2020
Is he hurt or not? If he is, why is he practicing? If he isn’t, why not play him?
I don’t think we’ll ever get the answers to these easy questions. Boylen has been evading answers to important questions all season long. When asked previously about why Denzel Valentine wasn’t in the rotation despite the team’s shooting woes, Boylen simply replied: “because I said so.” When Chandler Hutchison went down with an injury after starting five consecutive games for the Bulls (Nov. 9-18, 2019), Boylen also refused to implement him right back into the rotation and instead dabbled with Shaquille Harrison.
In a weird way, it’s like Boylen is punishing his players for missing time. I mean, it’s simple, if the player isn’t fully healthy, just say that, right?
One possible explanation for these repeatedly unprofessional remarks could be that Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson told Boylen to stop answering questions about player’s injuries.
According to our @Schumouse, Jim Boylen has been told by management to not answer questions about players' injuries any more. Also, last night he did not do the interview for the Coach's show on Bulls pregame. Awfully tempting to connect dots here. Boylen words = embarrassment.
If this is the type of response Boylen is providing instead, is it really better than letting him say he didn’t believe Gafford was healthy enough?
Whatever. Life is a joke. Basketball is meaningless. I need a cheeseburger or something. Someone get me comfort food.