Bulls can plan for future now that NBA season is going on without them
The Bulls are one of eight teams out of the NBA’s 22-team restart plan. That means the 2019-20 season is over, and they are out of the recruiting game that will inevitably take place. As for Jim Boylen, his future remains on thin ice.
For a young, rebuilding team, a nine-month layoff from a competitive NBA game seemingly would be punishment enough.
But there’s a bigger concern for the Bulls now that the NBA Board of Governors approved the 22-team “bubble’’ restart Thursday, which leaves out eight teams that must try to find their way between now and October.
The Bulls also are officially removed from the Orlando recruiting game.
Think that exclusion won’t be a thing? Think again.
Look at the relationships that players have built the last decade-plus from simply playing on Team USA. In 2008, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade spent the summer capturing a gold medal and planting the seeds of how they would play together within two years on the Heat.
In the 2016 Olympics, then-Bull Jimmy Butler struck up such a solid friendship with Kyrie Irving that when Irving demanded a trade out of Cleveland in 2017, one of the four places he listed as a destination spot was Minnesota, which just so happened to acquire Butler a month earlier.
Who demands a trade to the Timberwolves?
No, the recruiting game is a thing, and with the 2021 free-agent class arguably one of the most talented in league history, being left outside the “bubble’’ could be a three-year sentence in solitary confinement.
As has been described by the league, the bubble will allow players to freely come and go from their hotel rooms to play golf, eat at restaurants, etc., as long as they remain on the designated Disney Complex campus.
The players will be able to enjoy a round of golf or a serving of sushi with fellow players, a coach or a front-office executive in public view or in private.
Let’s see the NBA even try to put a lid on the tampering that will take place within the confines of the compound.
“It is disappointing that we will not return to play for the 2019-20 season, but ultimately this decision is about more than just one team,’’ Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf said in a statement. “We are supportive of commissioner Adam Silver and the outcome of the vote by the NBA Board of Governors.
“We will now shift our focus to continue to build our team under the new leadership of Arturas Karnisovas and our basketball operations department with a focus on the draft, free agency and offseason development.’’
So teams such as the Bulls, Knicks, Cavaliers and Timberwolves are hoping the NBA affords them some type of mandatory September training camp or a fall league in order to check out their players in a competitive situation and prepare them for the 2020-21 season, which will start in December.
“To be included in the plan to restart the 2019-20 season would have been a positive for our players and their development, but we understand the need to compromise, and we support the decision made today by the NBA Board of Governors,’’ Karnisovas said. “We are disappointed that our season is over and there won’t be opportunities to see our team or players in game action, but we will be creative in discovering new opportunities to support their growth as we prepare for the next season.’’
The Bulls, however, have more immediate concerns now that their season is over.
The new front office of Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley has little wiggle room with the roster for one more year, but it still has a major decision to make with coach Jim Boylen and his staff.
Boylen wrapped up the first year of a three-year contract but has two major strikes against him. He can’t escape his 39-84 (.317) record, and he’s one of the lower-paid coaches in the league, so his dismissal doesn’t leave a lot of dead money in its wake.
Boylen’s fate apparently is all but sealed. Karnisovas and Eversley have gotten enough mixed feedback from players and other club personnel on Boylen to make the case for a new coach.
Ownership likes Boylen, but multiple sources have said the Reinsdorfs would stand aside and leave the final say to the new front-office regime.
NOTE: According to reports, the 22 teams will begin training in Orlando starting July 9-11. The window for the rest of the season is July 31 to as late as Oct. 12 if the Finals go the distance. The draft lottery will be Aug. 25, the draft Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 season likely will begin Dec. 1. Free agency might begin Oct. 18, with training camps opening Nov. 10.