Whether Bulls players like his style or not, Jim Boylen is betting on himself
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NBA teams seldom have 2½-hour practices outside of training camp.
They usually don’t practice after back-to-back games in the midst of a schedule that features three games in four nights.
And 90-minute shootarounds are almost unheard of.
So, of course, the Bulls held a players-only meeting Sunday, which was followed by a team meeting in which coaches joined the fray.
But there was even a disagreement about that. The players said they held a team meeting and approached coach Jim Boylen about joining in, while Boylen had a different story when he was asked how it went down.
‘‘Um, no. Ah, I think it was just a communication, a little bit of both,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘This is what I think is necessary. And they felt they needed a voice, too. And that’s cool.
‘‘It was a merging. It wasn’t they came on my side or I came on their side. It was a family having a discussion of how we want to operate this family.’’
More Bulls craziness? Maybe, but there is a method behind Boylen’s madness, and it starts with him betting on himself.
When Boylen was promoted to replace fired Fred Hoiberg and met with the media last Monday, the one topic he was uncomfortable talking about was his contract situation and what kind of bump in pay he would get with the added responsibility.
‘‘You know what? I’m really not ready to discuss that right now,’’ Boylen said then.
That’s because there was little to discuss. According to a league source, Boylen hasn’t asked for a bump in pay with his new title. He’s operating under his current deal — at least for the rest of this season — at just more than $800,000.
His hope is that he puts his mark on the roster, that he establishes a tougher mentality with his players and that the front office commits to him for next season. That’s when finances can be discussed.
Boylen, like Hoiberg, was signed through next season anyway. That means the Bulls are committed to paying the two about $5.8 million either way.
If Boylen would have pushed for a bump in pay and received it and things didn’t work out the rest of this season, the Bulls would have gone into a coaching search next summer already down at least $6 million in coaching salary, with the next coach expected to earn $4 million to $5 million a year.
The idea of board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf spending close to $11 million next season for three coaches — Hoiberg, Boylen and the new guy — is crazy. So Boylen did the Bulls a favor by not seeking more money and in return was given the job for the rest of the season.
But that also means Boylen must produce results. That doesn’t necessarily mean wins and losses, but he has to get the young players to develop. If that means pushing his players to the brink of a mutiny, so be it.
That’s what Sunday started to feel like — NBA players starting to push back.
‘‘The main thing is that we needed to get a lot of stuff off our chest,’’ guard Zach LaVine said.
LaVine’s hope is they did — for now.
‘‘I don’t think anybody in here thought we were going to ease into this thing,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘That’s not my personality. That’s not how you effect change. We’re not easing into anything.’’