The Chicago Bulls have fired head coach Jim Boylen after two seasons. During his tenure, Boylen posted a 39-84 record without a playoff appearance. The move was widely expected following the hiring of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Artūras Karnišovas in April.
Boylen instantly raised questions about his longevity after taking over for former HC Fred Hoiberg in December 2018. Within weeks of his promotion, Bulls players met with the National Basketball Players Association to discuss Boylen's "militaristic" practice style, leading to tension with the roster that never went away.
It's no secret that Boylen wasn't best friends with his players. In June, forward Daniel Gafford had a blunt take on his former coach during a Twitch stream: "He's alright. I don't like him a lot, but he's ok. He's got some things he can work on." Gafford had a promising rookie campaign, especially defensively, but rarely played despite Boylen's tendency to use (unnecessarily) deep rotations.
Chicago's star, Zach LaVine, became a clearcut first-option during the shortened season, posting averages of 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. His frustration with Boylen's coaching style was often on display, with LaVine publicly disagreeing with game-plans and shaking his head at confusing timeout calls. Although he took the safe route in answering questions about Boylen, it was suspected that Boylen's presence could lead to LaVine wanting out of Chicago. The same went for Lauri Markkanen, an important piece of the Bulls' core who saw a regression this season. Boylen often pulled him in the fourth quarter and used him at the wrong time, never allowing the former seventh-overall pick to get in a groove. It was reported that if changes weren't made in Chicago, Lauri wanted out.
Boylen's firing is another step in the right direction. Once Gar Forman and John Paxson were removed from their positions following years of front office turmoil and fan disgruntlement, it appeared that the franchise was finally serious about reviving the culture that led to six championship in the '90s. Karnišovas' hiring brought intense excitement from Chicago's fanbase and the addition of new general manager Marc Eversley only added to it.
The Bulls search for a new head coach starts now. Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, and Toronto Raptors top assistant (and former Bulls assistant) Adrian Griffin are among the candidates, all of whom present intriguing, and encouraging, options.
The 2019-20 season didn't yield the results that many had hoped, but with another season of the young core and a high lottery pick incoming, the future feels bright for Chicago.