Bulls Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jim Boylen, Zach LaVine, More

Martin FennContributor IIIAugust 2, 2020

Chicago Bulls coach Jim Boylen talks with guard Zach LaVine during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Chicago, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Chicago Bulls fans had the luxury of reliving the glory days of the franchise in the past few months by way of The Last Dance docuseries. The current Bulls, however, are the furthest thing from a dynasty.

The Bulls have sputtered in each of the past three seasons, winning no more than 27 games. Former head coach Fred Hoiberg was fired after a 5-19 start to the 2018-19 campaign, and Jim Boylen has hardly been successful as his replacement.

Boylen's tenure has been rife with tension, notably between himself and Bulls star Zach LaVine. The two have had some back-and-forth exchanges, highlighted by a postgame meeting after a loss to the Phoenix Suns in February.

There was some intrigue as to whether new team president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley would look to clean house and hire a new head coach, especially considering other Bulls players have vented their frustrations in the past few months.

But it seems Chicago's new leadership team is more inclined to give Boylen a trial by fire period. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported on the Bulls Talk Podcast there is a sense Boylen will be retained as head coach.

However, there is a lack of clarity as to how this could affect LaVine. Johnson said the 25-year-old is tired of losing and having "run-ins" with Boylen.

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Johnson was commenting on a recent story by Ian Begley of SNY.tv, one in which Begley reported both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks were monitoring LaVine's situation in Chicago in the event he became available in trade talks.

There has yet to be any indication the Bulls will look to shop LaVine.

The UCLA product had another excellent offensive year this past season, averaging 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc on 8.1 attempts per game. LaVine still leaves much to be desired as an individual defender, but he did post career-high marks in both defensive rating and defensive box plus-minus, per Basketball Reference.

LaVine still has two years remaining on the four-year, $78 million contract he signed prior to the 2018-19 season, per Spotrac. Karnisovas and Eversley might elect to ride things out at least for another year to determine whether they feel LaVine can be a franchise cornerstone.

Indeed, Johnson also reported on the podcast that Karnisovas and Eversley are intrigued by the talent on the roster.

Otto Porter Jr. has been effective when healthy, though he has rarely been healthy. Wendell Carter Jr. has shown glimpses as a rim protector and weak-side defender with upside as a potential stretch big. Lauri Markkanen was brilliant after the All-Star break last season, though there are questions as to his role in Boylen's offense and the apparent lack of post touches.

Perhaps Karnisovas and Co. feel the simplest solution is to keep the pieces intact and make adjustments if the losing continues. That said, how will the front office proceed if the relationship between Boylen and LaVine is untenable?

The relationship between coach and star player might not always be perfect. But the dynamic between Boylen and LaVine might determine the Bulls' progress, or lack thereof, in the near future.

                 

All stats obtained via Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.

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