It’s not yet the NBA offseason, but the coaching market is already taking shape. With vacancies in Atlanta, New York, Orlando, Charlotte, and Phoenix and interim head coaches holding ship up in Milwaukee and down south in Memphis.
Although he hasn’t interviewed with any teams just yet, ESPN writer Kevin Arnovitz speculates that Chicago Bulls associate head coach Jim Boylen could generate head coaching interest this offseason from several teams.
A considerable number of league executives cite former Spurs assistant Jim Boylen, now with Chicago, as a basketball lifer with the smarts, temperament and experience to excel in the first chair.
Boylen just completed his third season as the associate head coach for the Chicago Bulls. A purported defensive specialist, he’s architected a system that has generated mixed results. In terms of defensive rating, the Bulls finished 24th in the NBA last season after finishing 14th and 15th respectively the last two seasons.
But the Bulls won’t be looking for a head coaching upgrade. After looking lost in his first two seasons with the Bulls, Fred Hoiberg looked much more in his element in year three. Though they certainly were not successful, and the final stretch of the season saw them intentionally trying to lose making it tough to really judge his performance.
Hoiberg’s contract continues for two more seasons, and according to K.C. Johnson it’s very unlikely that the Bulls seek to terminate his contract early.
Hoiberg proved a nice personality match for the rebuild, not to mention a young roster more suited for his offensive philosophy. He has full backing of management to begin his fourth season with strong support. It’s pretty well documented that Bulls’ ownership isn’t fond of paying coaches not to work for them. There has been no whisper of extension talks yet, but that’s not that unusual for a coach with two seasons left on his deal. There would have to be a drastic dropoff for Hoiberg not to finish the 2018-19 season. I think it’s fair to say whether he finishes his deal or gets a new one will be impacted by how much team growth there is this coming season.
The Bulls spent three years tearing down the infrastructure of the Thibodeau era and building a roster that better suited what Hoiberg tries to do strategic and personality-wise. Therefore, giving up on him could undermine all that work and could set the Bulls back even further as they scramble to adjust personnel for that hypothetical new head coach.
Plus, do you really think that Forman and Paxson would effectively admit that they made a mistake by firing their darling pick for head coach? Get real, Hoiberg is here to stay but that may not be as scary of a prospect as we originally thought.