Bulls players concerned they aren’t being heard by the new front office

From Day 1 of the new regime, the idea of “players first’’ was stressed by Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, but the current feeling shared by some Bulls is that very little they say is being heard.

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Even though Bulls coach Jim Boylen doesn’t appear to have the full support of some of his players, the front office hasn’t made a change.

Even though Bulls coach Jim Boylen doesn’t appear to have the full support of some of his players, the front office hasn’t made a change.

AP

Guard Zach LaVine has never been one to make demands on the front office.

New regime or old, he has hoped his input would carry some weight, that what he had to say would at least come up in conversations, especially considering the organization has insisted he’s the face of the franchise.

But one Bull told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that the growing concern is that no player is really being listened to by the organization.

For a new-look front office that on Day 1 said it would build a players-first foundation, it’s starting to feel like they’re not even in the top three.

“One of my mottoes is ‘Players first,’ ’’ new general manager Marc Eversley said when he was officially introduced to the media in May. “I think you have to create a players-first mentality.’’

So when exactly will that commence?

The players aren’t completely sold on coach Jim Boylen being the guy for the job. That doubt has been expressed publicly by Denzel Valentine and second-round pick Daniel Gafford, and several key players were candid about Boylen with executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas in initial conversations.

Several NBA scouts familiar with Eversley and Karnisovas had even heard that they were zeroing in on 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka.

That was in June.

It’s almost August, players have been in and out of town for voluntary workouts at the Advocate Center and the early buzz that accompanied all the organizational changes has died down.

One player said it feels like little has changed.

The good news is the Bulls have time on their side. The 22-team bubble has yet to even hold a meaningful game. With the starting date for the 2020-21 season tentatively set for the beginning of December, the Bulls have months to continue evaluating Boylen and the staff, as well as deciding on possible coaching candidates to bring in.

The bad news, however, is a bit more concerning.

Boylen’s return always has been the wish of the Reinsdorfs and adviser John Paxson, but it was never foisted on Karnisovas before he took the job.

But the entire swamp was not drained by the new regime, so there are lingering voices that continue to prop up Boylen as the right choice moving forward.

Not that assistant GM Brian Hagen and analytics guru Steve Weinman should be blamed. They are simply products of the Gar Forman era and were taught that a yes is always better than a no, especially when it comes to what chairman Jerry Reinsdorf really wants.

Survival 101 lingers in the organization, and it seem to carry more weight than anything the players have to say.

Also, Reinsdorf recently has been open about the money he’s going to lose with the Bulls and White Sox because of the coronavirus, so while Boylen’s fate shouldn’t come down to finances — especially with the Bulls believed to be valued at $3.2 billion — it very well could.

Meanwhile, the players are quietly going about their offseason business, wondering if they’re really being heard.

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