Coach Jim Boylen realizes Bulls fans are upset, but he’ll stick to his plan
Of course, Boylen saw all the red seats at the United Center on Friday night — everyone in attendance did. But he continues to block out the outside noise, believing in what he’s doing, no matter the record.
CLEVELAND — Coach Jim Boylen is cognizant of the growing disdain for the Bulls among the fan base in the third year of the rebuild.
And even if he were that oblivious, all of the empty red seats at the United Center during the loss Friday night to the Kings provided a big hint.
Boylen, however, has been able to keep the noise from seeping into the locker room. Or at least he has done his best to keep the focus elsewhere.
“The fans have been great to me,’’ Boylen said Saturday.
“For the most part, they understand what we’re trying to do. There’s always going to be people that don’t like where it’s at or where it’s going. I can’t control any of that.
‘‘All I can control is my attitude, my work, my connection to this team. That’s what I’m going to try to do.’’
Deflecting attention from the standings or his record as coach is a wise move.
Since taking over for Fred Hoiberg last December, Boylen has gone 35-71.
Have there been injuries? Yes. Has he had to remake the culture, as well as establish an identity on the fly? Absolutely.
No one denies that.
But in a pass-fail business, wins and losses are what go on the résumé. And all the losses have the fan base questioning the direction of the team and Boylen as the director.
“We have the best fans in the world; we have the best fans in the league,’’ Boylen said. “Are they frustrated, do they get frustrated at times? Of course. That’s OK. I think that’s why they’re the greatest fans because they care.
“We’ll keep working at this.’’
Boylen is clinging to the idea that a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs is still there for the taking.
The Bulls are an injured group right now, but if they can start getting some of those bodies back and stay mathematically within range of the Magic and Nets, he’ll roll the dice.
“We’ve got kind of a next-man-up mentality,’’ Boylen said. “We’ve got some young guys playing.
‘‘This gives us an opportunity to build even more depth, and hopefully around the break or after the break, we can get back to full strength and get after this thing. We’re within striking distance. We’ve got to stay there, and hopefully we can do that and fight our way through.’’
The Bulls are without a true second scorer now that Lauri Markkanen is sidelined for the next four to six weeks, so Boylen was asked about trying to unleash streaky shooter Coby White for more minutes.
If White gets hot, Boylen said he’ll ride him like he has in certain games. But the idea of force-feeding the No. 7 overall pick from the 2019 NBA Draft more minutes isn’t in the cards. Instead, it’s about his development and having him play both guard spots.
“His plan won’t change much,’’ Boylen said. “He plays a different position than Markkanen. We’ll get Coby involved and keep developing him as a guard that can lead the team but also score. We’ll keep pushing him to be a two-way player, which I think is really important for him.’’