Bulls coach Jim Boylen continues to worry about the business of basketball first and foremost.
Publicly, at least.
Boylen reiterated that as the Bulls prepared for a showdown of struggling franchises Saturday in New York, doing his best to ignore just how undermanned his team has been because of injuries.
‘‘What I’ve learned to do from people I’ve worked for and from being in this business is I take it as it comes,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘I try to stay in the moment, trying to do the best I can today to help this team get better and grow. I do not worry about tomorrow, and I try to stay right in where we’re at. And where we’re at right now is banged up.’’
With help hopefully coming.
Big man Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) and swingman Denzel Valentine (hamstring) practiced Thursday, had no setbacks when the Bulls flew out Friday and were looking to return against the Knicks, provided there are no flare-ups in pregame warmups.
Forward Otto Porter Jr. (left foot) seems close, but he won’t push it, especially with him feeling there is little to be gained at this point in the season.
The business of basketball shouldn’t be the only thing on Boylen’s mind, however.
The NBA Draft lottery will be held May 19 and the draft itself June 25. Chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf is knee-deep in mapping out a plan for a front-office restructuring, and it’s a decision that will affect Boylen’s future and the direction of the Bulls’ rebuild.
If Reinsdorf can add someone such as Thunder general manager Sam Presti, that would mean a seismic shift throughout the organization. If Reinsdorf goes a bit safer and targets Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, that might mean one more season of evaluating Boylen and the roster. That’s a big maybe, considering most new executives want their own coach in place.
But if Boylen stays put, that would mean adding to what he has been trying to build, which is a defensive-minded team. With the Bulls sitting in the No. 7 spot — again — right now, they might be able to add a defensive-minded wing such as Auburn’s Isaac Okoro.
Porter will be eligible for free agency after the 2020-21 season, and while the staff likes Chandler Hutchison to be that wing presence defensively, his injury history can’t be discounted.
Someone such as Presti, however, might want to go with a true point guard who fits analytically into his mindset. That might point the Bulls in the direction of players such as Tyrese Haliburton or Nico Mannion.
That’s why figuring out a direction of the restructuring is so important.
Just don’t ask Boylen about it. He has more immediate things to think about.
‘‘I cannot wallow in the things I can’t control,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘Otherwise, I don’t do as good a job on that floor teaching the guys that are practicing and are playing and staying positive and upbeat, and that’s what I get paid to do. I take a lot of pride in my attitude in these moments.
‘‘That’s what this league is about to me. It’s easy when your team’s healthy and you’re playing good and you’re winning games and all that. But a lot of us in the league right now are going through these moments, and that’s part of it.’’