Add a reported debate about whether to show up to Sunday's practice to the list of Chicago Bulls dysfunction this season.
After dropping to 6-21 on the campaign with a humiliating 133-77 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday, the players reportedly texted each other to decide if they were going to attend practice.
While a handful of players wanted to forgo practice, veterans on the team were opposed to skipping it. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported the news, noting players did appear at the practice facility but requested a players-only meeting before talking with coaches. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic identified that it was Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez who voiced their concerns for skipping practice, adding:
"The texts started Saturday night and carried into Sunday morning. One idea that had significant support, according to sources, was the players simply not showing up to the Advocate Center on Sunday. A preliminary plan was to gather at one player's house and wait for the phones to begin buzzing. That plan fizzled because Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez spoke up, voicing their concerns about the unprofessionalism of that potential act of rebellion, as well as the impact such a stance could have on the roster's younger, less established players, sources said."
A separate idea was for the players to walk into the practice facility together before walking out, per Mayberry.
Jim Boylen is serving as the head coach after Chicago fired Fred Hoiberg earlier in the season and has kept his team busy:
Chris Herring @Herring_NBA
Unless Im missing something, Bulls have had: 1) Practice last Monday (when Boylen took over) 2) Road gm Tues 3) Practice Wed (rare for tms to practice when coming back from trip) 4) Practice Thu 5) Gm Friday 6) Back-to-back gm on Sat 7) Practice scheduled today 8) Game tomorrow
"I think it was just a communication, a little bit of both," Boylen said when asked about Sunday's proceedings, per Johnson. "This is what I think is necessary today. And they felt they needed a voice to talk too. And that's cool. That's good. This is a family thing. This is open lines of communication."
Rookie big man Wendell Carter Jr. also discussed what happened, saying, per Johnson, "We both agreed on something, the players and the coaches. We came to them as men, we talked and told them how we felt and they responded very well."
Johnson added more context to the situation:
The 56-point loss to the Celtics was the worst in franchise history, and the team was booed off the court at the United Center:
The 2018-19 campaign is headed nowhere fast for a Chicago team that is well on its way to missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Returning to the days when Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler consistently lost in the Eastern Conference playoffs seems like too lofty of a goal at this point, let alone re-establishing the dominance of the Michael Jordan era.
Chicago does have some young building blocks in Carter, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, but it will likely need to get lucky in the draft lottery to add a potentially franchise-altering piece to that core.
ESPN.com's Zach Lowe put much of the blame for the current situation on the front-office combination of Gar Forman and John Paxson, pointing out they didn't give Hoiberg the type of pieces his uptempo, three-point-reliant attack could use:
"The bottom line is this: If you know after those three-plus seasons that Hoiberg is either a good or a bad NBA coach, I am both impressed and a little worried about the confidence you have in your convictions. I freely admit I have little idea. The Bulls have had zero on-court identity over that entire span, and a lot of that confusion—likely most of it—lays at the feet of Gar Forman and John Paxson above him."
The Bulls may have used this players-only meeting to air out some grievances, but they have a long way to go toward competitiveness in the Eastern Conference.