Two months ago, I took a personal break from writing for On Tap Sports Net. At the time, there was a lot going on in the world and it seemed everyone was in some state of stress and anxiety. I worried about a lot of things, but one thing I was not worried about was the head coaching situation of my beloved Chicago Bulls.
I come back to On Tap today, never as more excited or motivated to start writing. But I come back from my hiatus with Jim Boylen still as the head coach of the Bulls and I could not be more upset, confused, and worried.
I wrote an article back in June when I heard Jerry Reinsdorf was actually in favor of retaining Jim Boylen as head coach. It was an open letter of sorts to the Bulls’ chairman which listed out several reasons why keeping Boylen would be the obvious wrong decision.
I gave examples of incompetent in-game management, like the time he called a timeout a split second before Tomas Satoransky was about to make a layup.
I highlighted Boylen’s lack of player development by showcasing Lauri Markkanen’s third-year regression and players openly laughing at “Fire Boylen!” audience shout-outs.
And finally, I listed out some great stats highlighting Boylen’s tenure as Bulls head coach:
- 39-84 overall head coaching record (31.7% winning percentage)
- 2-23 vs. teams over .500 during 2019-20 season
- 0-21 vs. top-eight Eastern Conference teams during 2019-20 season
- Longest winning streak during 2019-20 season: 2
So how has Boylen remained head coach of the Bulls during my little sabbatical?
The main reason being dished out by the media is that the Reinsdorf family is worried about the financial implications of COVID-19 on the team.
While it is understandable any team owner would be worried about the uncertainty of the situation, especially an owner who owns an MLB team, this still is not reason enough to keep Boylen on as head coach.
First, Boylen is one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the league at a clip of just $1.6 million per season. This means the Bulls would not have to pay an arm and a leg to buy out his contract.
Second, the Bulls have notoriously not gone over the luxury tax threshold and are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, valued at $3.2 billion.
Third, the Bulls have significant amounts of cash coming off the books over the next season. Fred Hoiberg’s buyout payments are done and Otto Porter Jr., Luke Kornet, and Cristiano Felicio all come off the books after next season, resulting in an additional $38.2 million of cap space.
Lastly, the next Bulls’ head coach will most likely receive a contract that is significantly smaller than the average NBA head coach’s deal. Not only because of the reduction in the salary cap, but also because the next head coach is most likely to be a first-time head coach.
Now, there are some potential reasons as to why Karnisovas has yet to pull the trigger on firing Boylen. A potential second bubble for teams that did not make the current bubble may provide a chance for the front office to evaluate Boylen in-game. However, Boylen’s tenure up to this point should not allow him the chance to prove himself.
Could it also be possible Karnisovas is simply waiting for top candidates Adrian Griffin or Ime Udoka to finish out their time in the bubble with their respective teams?
And with the potential start date for next season completely up in the air, Karnisovas can be as patient as he wants, which is something he has stressed would be important.
All in all, I’m not hitting the panic button yet. However, if Boylen is on the sidelines for the Bulls next season, I will be livid. It will not matter if Karnisovas made the decision himself or if Reinsdorf did not give his front office total basketball control as promised.
It would simply be yet another failure and further incompetency demonstrated by the Bulls’ front office and the Reinsdorf family.