This is what Jim Boylen has been waiting for.
He made that very clear even as far back as late March, and just four months on the job as the Bulls head coach.
His own training camp.
Not one in which he quietly sits back as an assistant and takes marching orders from former coach Fred Hoiberg. No, this is now his show. Boylen’s chance to re-establish a hard-nosed culture that he jumpstarted last season, and has a full camp to push down the throats of his players – ready or not.
And while there was some initial resistance in the locker room last December when Hoiberg was fired and Boylen was put in charge, that all seems to have passed.
Heck, even guard Zach LaVine was looking to pay a fine for his coach by the end of last season. The same LaVine who was trying to start a small locker room coup in the wake of Boylen’s initial gruff attitude in his first few days on the job.
LaVine wasn’t the only one buying in by April, either.
The front office not only extended Boylen with a three-year deal, but made it a point to actually add personnel to fit Boylen’s style of coaching – both on the court and off of it.
Not a common practice for general manager Gar Forman, who seemingly ignored the wishes of former coach Tom Thibodeau when it came to the draft and free agency, and rarely helped Hoiberg out with his to-do list.
That changed this summer, and that first piece was forward Thaddeus Young, who Boylen kept tabs on for years. Come free agency, the Bulls wasted no time in adding the no-nonsense veteran.
“He’s a hard-nosed coach,’’ Young said of Boylen this summer. “We would always have a conversation each and every time we played the Bulls. He would always pull me aside and talk to me. We would have a little conversation about how hard his guys were playing, how much he liked me and stuff like that.’’
The feeling is mutual with Young, and he’s not alone.
Rookie Coby White praised Boylen during the draft process, Lauri Markkanen welcomed his coach into his house in Finland last month, Otto Porter Jr. instantly hit it off with Boylen when he came over in a trade from the Wizards, and that’s just where the line starts.
So this idea that outsiders seem to have that Boylen’s tough-guy mentality has him on eggshells with his locker room?
That’s just not reality.
It’s obvious that Boylen hasn’t been fully embraced outside the Advocate Center. Not by the Bulls fan base, not by some in the media, and definitely not by the bloggers and analytics groupies, who coach from the couch, spreadsheets and shot charts in hand.
Newsflash – Boylen doesn’t care. Not even a little bit.
It’s what matters inside the Advocate Center in Boylen’s world, and with the coach now poised to put his handprint on his first camp starting Monday, the likes of vice president of basketball operations John Paxson are all in on his coaching style.
“There’s always chirping out there where people think a guy is a certain way,’’ Paxson said of Boylen this offseason. “But people don’t have the luxury that I have where you can sit in there and watch him do his work every day on the practice floor and how he does support and encourage, all the while making sure that they are held to a standard. And that’s important. That, to me, is basketball. That’s coaching, teaching.’’
Get the suicide sprints ready.