New Bulls coach Jim Boylen is piling on the work load and won’t apologize for it
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Bulls guard Zach LaVine knows it has to let up at some point.
Make that, he hopes it’s going to let up at some point.
The Jim Boylen era kicked off Monday, with 2½-hour practices Wednesday and Thursday, then a 90-minute shootaround Friday.
LaVine gave an uncomfortable laugh when asked how he felt about all the extra work Boylen has put the players through since his promotion from associate to head coach after Fred Hoiberg’s firing.
“You know . . . yeah,” LaVine said. “Gotta get used to it.”
Deciding after Tuesday night’s loss in Indiana that the players needed to be better conditioned, Boylen has backed that up with long practices full of running, including some old-school suicide drills.
“We’ve had some running . . . some running,” LaVine said. “It’s OK. He wants to make his mark. You have to understand that. I think things will slow up as the season goes on.”
But for now, it’s the new norm, and Boylen won’t apologize for it.
“Our will needs to be better when we’re tired, so hopefully we’ll be less tired, and hopefully our will grows from what we’re working on,” Boylen said. “That’s a big issue with us right now — our will comes and goes during the game. If you’re mentally tougher, if you’re in better shape, I think maybe your will can last a little longer.”
The nice thing for Boylen is this group hasn’t resisted the extra work — at least not yet. Because the Bulls have one of the younger rosters in the league, his word is law so far.
“What I talk about is, are you coachable? Do you honor coaching?” Boylen said. “Are you teachable? Can you learn how to play the right way? When you’re coachable, teachable, you become reliable, and we’re trying to become reliable, and we’re not there yet.”
Boylen believes he can get the Bulls to that place.
“Because I’m direct and honest, and they’re going to know exactly where they stand in every moment, every day,” he said. “The great guys I worked for, that’s what they do, and that’s what I want to do. These guys know that. They know how I operate, and I’ve operated that way since I’ve been here. Direct and honest. Nobody likes to be told the truth when it’s not good for them, but at the end of the day, they know deep down inside that it’s what they needed to hear.”
If the Bulls weren’t playing a back-to-back Friday and Saturday, there’s a good chance both forward Bobby Portis (right knee) and guard Kris Dunn (left knee) would have played Friday night against the Thunder.
While it seems they could both be back Saturday against the Celtics, Boylen wasn’t committing.
“They had a good day,” Boylen said after the two worked out Friday. “I’m not trying to be vague — I just don’t know. We kind of wait to see how they respond in the morning. It’s one of those types of things. They do their check-in and we go from there.”
Long road back
Guard Denzel Valentine, who had reconstructive surgery on his left ankle last week, told reporters that as long as there are no setbacks, he should start running by February. He stood behind his decision to have the season-ending surgery, saying it was either going to be now or later.