Former Bulls Head Coach Linked to Current NBA Opening: Report

Jim Boylen and Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls.

Getty Jim Boylen and Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls.

Just three seasons ago, the Chicago Bulls won 22 games. They finished 13th in the Eastern Conference and were the fourth-worst team in the NBA. Since then, they’ve changed coaches twice, seen significant roster turnover, and returned back to the playoffs with a 46-36 record.

It’s safe to say that the Bulls are in a much better place now than they were just a few seasons ago. Billy Donovan has done a phenomenal job, they have two All-Stars on the roster (for now), and things are looking up. But recent rumors have revealed that a ghost from their past could be returning to the NBA.

According to long-time NBA insider Marc Stein, former Bulls head coach could be making a return to the NBA as an assistant coach.

“Mike D’Antoni? Terry Stotts? Kenny Atkinson? These are the known names still in consideration for Charlotte’s coaching vacancy after the Lakers’ hiring of Darvin Ham,” Stein wrote. “There was some fresh buzz over the weekend that D’Antoni, if he were to be selected as the Hornets’ new coach, could bring former Chicago Bulls coach Jim Boylen with him as an assistant.”

Charlotte has yet to make a decision on their new head coach, but Boylen would bring a defensive-minded outlook along with D’Antoni’s masterful offensive ideologies.

Boylen is a ‘Noted Defensive Coach’

The 57-year-old took over for Fred Hoiberg in the middle of the 2018-19 season and would coach in Chicago for a season and a half. He was relieved of his duties after the 2019-20 season and has yet to coach again in the NBA.

However, in the summer of 2020, the Portland Trail Blazers brought Boylen in as a special consultant to help them improve on the defensive side of the ball. As written by Jason Quick of The Athletic in December of 2020, Boylen “is a noted defensive coach.”

“Boylen, who was fired in August by Chicago after compiling a 39-84 record in two seasons, is a noted defensive coach. He took over the Bulls in December of 2018 after Fred Hoiberg was fired with a 5-19 record,” Quick wrote. “In his one full season in Chicago, Boylen helped the Bulls improve from 25th to ninth defensively. And in 21 years as an NBA assistant, he four times helped coach top 10 defenses in Indiana and San Antonio, including the NBA’s No. 1 defense in Indiana in 2012-13. Boylen has also led a number of coaching clinics centered on defense.”

The Hornets finished the season ranked 22nd in defensive rating (113.1) and desperately need help on that end of the court. However, while Boylen’s impressive defensive tactics could earn him a spot on Charlotte’s bench, Chicago doesn’t have fond memories of him as their head coach.

Drama Between Boylen and the Bulls

One of the most covered issues during Boylen’s stint in Chicago was the friction between him and star Zach LaVine. The two rarely got along, quarreling over playing time and substitutions. Things got so bad that some players believed the two could get into a physical altercation.

Another questionable call was when Boylen decided to install a punch clock at Chicago’s practice facility, forcing players to punch in and out of practice when they came and went. Needless to say, players weren’t too fond of the gesture.

Combine those incidents with the constant media comments, odd in-game decisions, and refusing to call a timeout when one of his players was injured, and it just wasn’t a good mix.

Jim Boylen refuses to call timeout for injured Gafford, so Rick Carlisle calls for a foul(Dallas Mavericks vs. Chicago Bulls) (January 6 2020) -All clips property of the NBA. No copyright intended. All videos are edited to follow the "Free Use" guideline of Youtube -Follow me on IG Subscribe for DAILY updates!!!2020-01-07T03:55:20Z

All that being said, Boylen’s defensive tactics are proven. He was even named the head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team, which is made up of mostly G Leaguers and is hoping to qualify for the World Cup.

Given the right situation, like potentially being an assistant in Charlotte under D’Antoni, Boylen still has room to grow.

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