Jim Boylen Fired as Bulls Head Coach After 2 Seasons

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2020

Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen prepares for a team timeout during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Jim Boylen is out as Chicago Bulls head coach after not even two full seasons, the team announced Friday.

"No one could question Jim's passion for our team and our organization," President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Reinsdorf said. "We sincerely appreciate his tireless efforts and contributions during his time with the Bulls, and we wish him and his family the very best."

Chicago is heading in a new direction after hiring Arturas Karnisovas as its new executive vice president of basketball operations. Karnisovas also released a statement about the decision:

"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."

The Bulls promoted Boylen, 55, from associate head coach to head coach after they fired Fred Hoiberg in December 2018. He had extensive NBA experience as an assistant but had only been a collegiate head coach at the University of Utah.

Chicago struggled to a 17-41 mark in Boylen's 58 games in year one, and the losing record was not the only concern.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported that in Boylen's first month in the position, "Players started a group text exchange debating whether to show up at [the] practice facility." They were not pleased with the physically grueling and long practices, especially the day after games.

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Still, there were moderate expectations for the team entering the 2019-20 campaign, with young talent such as Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr.

However, injuries and frustrating losses piled up.

Boylen's insistence on calling timeouts in the final moments of games when Chicago was well behind also became a narrative to the point where LaVine was visibly upset by one and used an expletive when saying, "Why we calling a timeout down 10," per Jamal Collier of the Chicago Tribune.

Collier noted the two "aired their frustrations" during a subsequent meeting, even though their relationship was "rocky at times" before that incident.

What's more, Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic reported in December 2019, "Boylen remains unpopular in the Chicago locker room, which isn't surprising given that his tenure began with a near-mutiny over his grueling practices and formation of the much-derided 'Leadership Committee.'"

With the frustration and relationship issues serving as the backdrop, Boylen led the Bulls to a 22-43 record in a shortened 2019-20 season as the team missed the playoffs for the third straight season. He did not have the Bulls in position to be invited to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, for the 22-team restart.