Interim direction

Sam Smith regurgitates what's been written the past week about the Boylan regime so far, he's playing his veterans (Wallace, Smith, Hinrich, Deng, Gordon, Duhon) more than Skiles even did.

If the reason behind Skiles firing was that he didn't want to bench Ben Gordon, and that he dared to sit Wallace to end games, then I owe ol' angry-face a big apology. Not that he didn't deserve to be fired for other reasons, but my ire should've been focused at Pax if that was the real reason.

Especially if it had to do with Wallace's play. The Sun-Times buries the lead after the Kings game (well, my fanboy lead) and puts Wallace's free-throw heroics ahead of the unearthing of Tyrus Thomas. 

One of the first things Jim Boylan did when he was named coach after Skiles was fired was talk to Wallace.

''I asked him if I could count on him and he said I could,'' Boylan said. ''I took him at his word.''

Wallace, who wasn't thrilled with being benched by Skiles for entire fourth quarters, relished the chance to help the Bulls pull out a 94-93 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. In addition to blocking Brad Miller's last-second shot, Wallace hit the decisive free throw with 3.2 seconds left -- Wallace's lone point of the night.

''That's the reason you play the game, to be out there and do what you can do to help the team,'' Wallace said. ''I was having a little back spasm and couldn't [bend] down as low as I wanted to get down on the free-throw line. When it counted, I was able to get under it and make one for the team. That's what we need; we need everyone to go when their number is called.''

Boylan, who is 4-2 as coach, believes the team needs Wallace to be more involved if the Bulls are going to turn this 13-19 season around.

''He plays the game differently than most NBA players,'' Boylan said. ''He affects the game in a lot of different ways that don't always show up in the stats.''

Unfortunately for Boylan, 'minutes' does appear in the stat sheet. And the number in Wallace's column is too high.

Sure, Wallace never was an offensive force, but at least at his prime he could catch and finish. He's never shot this poorly in his career (33%), and the multiple missed (or unattempted) layups and dunks hurts the offense as much as any cold jumpshooter. That 'clutch' free-throw was Wallace's only point in 33 minutes.

This is a team with plenty of capable frontcourt options, yet the guy who can't finish, rebounding worse each year, and battling back spasms, bone spurs in his foot, and plain old age is getting this much burn.

And why? Because after not getting his 'entitled' minutes he quit on Skiles? Sure, it's a good strategy for the interim coach to get the highest-paid (and still one of the most important) player on his side. I'm resigned to the fate that we're stuck with this guy, but also that he can still help. I'm guessing that the organization feels the same way. But things would've been better for Boylan if instead of asking Wallace if he could handle more minutes, he should've asked if he could 'count on' handling a reduced role without killing another coach.

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