Earlier this week, Sun-Times’ reporter Joe Cowley went on 670 The Score to discuss the seemingly delayed decision on the fate of head coach Jim Boylen, whom many believe is on his way out of Chicago after a frustrating 39-84 start to his head coaching career. Cowley didn’t waver from his previous reports that Boylen’s future with the organization is all but decided, but he did shed some light on why Arturas Karnisovas hasn’t shown him the door just yet.
In short, Jim Boylen is still around because Karnisovas (and GM Marc Eversley) are not only trying to revamp an organization, but they’re trying to do so while rebranding the bad reputation developed and internalized across the entire league over the years. As you well know, this is an organization that hasn’t been known for its candor, especially in the head coach department, and that simply complicates the process (Michael: It’s a potentially frustrating reality, but I sure am glad the front office is considering every angle of every decision they make. It clearly matters).
Unfortunately, according to Cowley, the Bulls have had some seriously bad press behind the scenes from the president of the NBA Coaches Association (NBCA), Rick Carlisle, over the years, and that could make things tricky, whether that warning was from pre-Karnisovas days or not:
There is a perception problem and come from the outside – like Arturas and Marc Eversley have – you know what that perception problem is. [Rick] Carlisle, the Dallas coach, has made it very clear the distant the coaching association, a lot of coaches have for the Bulls and the practices they have toward coaches. The way they’ve treated them as commodities for decades, the way they’ve fired guys on Christmas eve, so there is a perception problem that I think these guys want to change coming in now to this, that the old regime didn’t care about nor they maybe even see fully … it’s twofold, they’re buying time because they have time to buy, but also I think it’s also a perception thing they’re trying to change.
Carlisle has been very behind-the-scenes advocate of ‘Hey, stay away from the Bulls, it’s not a good place.’
As much as that sucks to hear, I can’t say I’m surprised. As the president of the NBA Coaches Association, Carlisle’s job is to look out for his fellow head coaches. And whether it’s pinching pennies, firing coaches on Christmas eve, or incessant internal feuds, the Bulls organization has found its way toward the top of the “do not coach” list.
Even if the coach in this situation has proven to be as incapable as Boylen has been, Karnisovas and Eversley can (and must) still use him as an example of how things are different *now*. I’ve brought up a similar point numerous times before: Boylen wasn’t fired right away because the new brass wants to show they do things “the right way.” Plain and simple. Both are known for their ability to build relationships and dive deep into the assessment process. Gym-junkies at heart, these guys would immediately go against some of the exact qualities they’ve been praised for if the head coach had been fired on Day 1. Again, this doesn’t mean Boylen’s job can or will be saved, it just means they’re going to follow the most respectable process possible (which includes meeting him in person and actually being around the team).
Be happy about that.
Overall, I strongly believe the point Cowley mentions above plays a pivotal role in why we’re seeing things play out the way they are. This isn’t about Boylen, this about setting a new precedent. Gar Forman and John Paxson may no longer be in charge of this organization, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the league is ready to forgive the Bulls for the sins of their past. Karnisovas and Eversley have to prove things will be different, and this is one way (albeit a frustrating one) they’re trying to do just that.