Several key Bulls making Jim Boylen’s future as coach cloudy

When it comes to Boylen’s future, there’s no power struggle afoot between ownership and the new front office. It’s more of a difference of opinion, and several key Bulls have made the case to move on from him, according to a source.

SHARE Several key Bulls making Jim Boylen’s future as coach cloudy
The Bulls are weighing the pros and cons of keeping or dismissing coach Jim Boylen.

The Bulls are weighing the pros and cons of keeping or dismissing coach Jim Boylen.

Try getting anyone with the Bulls who’s not wearing a shirt and tie to talk about coach Jim Boylen’s future.

Not the stock answers of “We’re still evaluating,” “We still need to put eyes on Boylen and his coaching staff,” etc. No, the real talk about what’s being said behind closed doors or in Zoom meetings about Boylen’s relationship with the Bulls’ ownership, the new front office, his staff and the players.

It’s an exercise in futility.

However, things might be staying vague for a reason. The Sun-Times has learned that the Reinsdorfs, as well as former vice president of basketball operations John Paxson — now a senior advisor — would like Boylen to stay and have told him so.

Meanwhile, according to a source, Arturas Karni-sovas, the Bulls’ new head of basketball operations, and new general manager Marc Eversley have already had detailed discussions with players and retained front-office personnel — and are getting enough mixed feedback about the last year that they’re said to be leaning toward starting fresh with a new coach once the NBA decides how to resolve this season.

Barely a month on the job, Karnisovas walks a fine line between pleasing the Reinsdorfs and reminding them that this new front office was hired with the promise of full autonomy and trust on basketball-related decisions.

The arguments for keeping Boylen are that he cares about the organization, that several players have spoken very favorably about him and that he carried out what the previous front office wanted this season, even with a mostly injured roster.

But two things might sink Boylen. First, according to a source, several key players ripped Boylen to the new front office. And there’s also the elephant in the room of a 39-84 (.317) record since Boylen took over from Fred Hoiberg in December 2018.

Even when Boylen was an assistant under Hoiberg, the Bulls struggled on defense, despite Boylen having been brought in as a defensive specialist. 

Boylen is said to speak to Karni-sovas and Eversley regularly but has not publicly addressed his future. He recently spoke to ESPN about his relationship with former Bulls coach Phil Jackson and has been available for several features on other members of the Bulls’ organization, but he was advised to stay away from interviews about his future or his standing with the team, according to the source.

Bulls players appear to have received the same orders about him.

Publicly, Karnisovas and Eversley have addressed the Boylen situation, with little indication of where things are headed. 

“My initial impression of Jim is he cares a great deal about this team and he’s as anxious as everyone else to get back in the gym,” Karnisovas said last week. “I’m going to do my comprehensive evaluation of every department and ensure I give the process the time it deserves. We are limited right now with what we can do [because of the coronavirus shutdown].’’

Eversley was just as vague, pledging that he and Karnisovas would “evaluate everybody on staff — not only players, coaches, but also people in the front office, as well.”

Fair, but time might already be running out on Boylen.

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