Bulls Fire Jim Boylen

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  • The Chicago Bulls have fired head coach Jim Boylen.
  • Boylen posted a recored of 39-84 in parts of two seasons with the Bulls.
  • Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., Adrian Griffin, and Darvin Ham are among the early favorites to land the vacant job.

As expected, the Chicago Bulls have sacked head coach Jim Boylen. The team made it official on Friday with newly minted executive vice-president for basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas issuing the statement:

“After doing a comprehensive evaluation and giving the process the time it deserved, I ultimately decided that a fresh approach and evolution in leadership was necessary. This was a very difficult decision, but it is time for our franchise to take that next step as we move in a new direction and era of Chicago Bulls basketball. Jim is a great human being that cares deeply about this organization and the game of basketball. I want to thank him for his professionalism and commitment to the franchise.”

Boylen leaves after two seasons as head coach of the Bulls. He departs with a dismal record of 39-84 without a playoff appearance. Boylen joined the Bulls as an associate head coach during the 2015-16 season before taking over as head coach on December 3, 2018.

Aside from having two losing seasons in Chicago, Boylen was criticized for his inability to develop young players like Lauri Markkanen. His firing was made in the team’s continuing effort to change what has been mostly a losing culture since the retirement of Michael Jordan.

Changes Were Expected

Changes were expected after the season. Management reshuffled the front office last spring, with Karnisovas taking over as the team’s top executive, ending John Paxson’s 17-year term. Karnisovas then hired Mark Eversley as general manager to replace Gar Foreman before transferring Paxson to a senior advisory role.

Meanwhile, the Bulls continued to struggle this year. Chicago had a 22-43 record during the 2019-20 regular season before play was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bulls have missed the playoffs in the last three seasons and they have not won a playoff series since the 2015 season.

Boylen’s 39-84 (.317) record as Bulls’ coach was the second worst among head coaches in the Chicago Bulls’ franchise history. Only Tim Floyd who went 49-190 (.205) in three plus seasons after Michael Jordan’s retirement, had a worse wining percentage.

The rest of Chicago’s coaching staff will remain place, for now. The team’s top assistants in Roy Rogers and Chris Fleming are under contract beyond the 2020 season. They will continue to work with the players in the team’s facility. However, the search for the new head coach begins immediately.

The Search Is On

Leading the list of candidates to replace Boylen, as per report of Adrian Wojnarowski, is former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. Atkinson transformed a young Nets group to a playoff team in two seasons and he has developed unknown guys like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen to big-time players.

Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin has reportedly been in Chicago’s radar for quite some time. Griffin and Karnisovas were teammates at Seton Hall and Griffin played nine seasons in the league before settling to a coaching job. He also has stints with the Bucks, Magic, and Thunder.

Wes Unseld Jr. is an assistant coach from the Denver Nuggets so he and Karnisovas know each other. Unseld was one the Cavs’ targets in 2019 before giving the job to John Beilin. He had stints with Orlando, Golden State, and Washington before spending the las five seasons under Mike Malone.

Former NBA player Darvin Ham is Mike Budenholzer’s right-hand man in Milwaukee. Ham was coach Bud’s head assistant in Atlanta and he is also holding the same position with the Bucks. Prior to working for Budenholzer, Ham was an assistant coach Mike Brown with the Lakers. He was also a former  head coach for the NBDL team New Mexico Thunderbirds.

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Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher.