We heard at the end of yet another injury-filled campaign that the Bulls were going to make some changes to their training staff, and now those changes are coming to light, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Meanwhile, sources said the Bulls dismissed Jen Swanson as the team's director of sports performance. Swanson oversaw Rose's ACL rehab in 2012 as a prominent Los Angeles-based physical therapist and was hired, amid much fanfare, to oversee the Bulls' training and strength staffs in September 2013.
According to someone who spoke to Swanson, she was told the Bulls merely wanted "to shake things up" after another injury-plagued season.
The Bulls also dismissed strength coach Nick Papendieck, and one of Butler's trainers is in line as a replacement, sources said.
As K.C. notes, there was quite a bit of hubbub when Swanson was hired in 2013. The Bulls were hoping her presence would help with the injury problems, but very little changed on that front and instead she played a role in the wedge between the front office and former head coach Tom Thibodeau. As friend of the program Stephen Noh noted in The Athletic, the hiring of Papendieck as strength coach over a Thibs-backed candidate was also a point of contention between the old coach and the front office.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, who infamously often referred to Swanson as a "yoga instructor," wrote this right before Thibodeau's firing:
The obvious was taking control of the minutes and placing restrictions on certain players from participating in certain drills, using director of sports performance, Jen Swanson, as the messenger for all of those edicts.
The relationship between Swanson and Thibodeau had completely deteriorated over the summer anyway, when Thibodeau and the rest of the Team USA coaching staff felt she was dishonest about the handling of Derrick Rose in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.
Of course, very little changed this past season under Fred Hoiberg after all the talk about things changing. Jimmy Butler still played huge minutes while also dealing with injuries, and there were plenty of other medical mishaps as well. Furthermore, some of those edicts delivered by Swanson may have played a part in the Bulls' deteriorating chemistry this season.
On that topic of chemistry, these changes add another layer to the Rose and Butler relationship. Not only is Rose losing a "confidant," but it looks like the Bulls are giving one of Butler's "guys" a job. Will that be an issue? Butler has talked about the need to develop more chemistry with Rose over the summer by working out together, but we'll see if that actually happens:
Heh, following up on the Jimmy stuff, KC doesn't think Rose and Butler will ever actually work out this summer https://t.co/zE1Hpzh39T— Trenton Jocz (@TrentonJocz) May 18, 2016
Couple all this with Butler being at the lottery and rumors about the Bulls wanting a point guard in the draft, and you have to wonder if they're trying to send a message to Rose. Or they could just be doing that thing where they effectively push a guy out the door. Or both.
Either way, hopefully these training staff changes are just the start of an eventful offseason.