So it turns out it was bad timing for Jerry Reinsdorf’s son to go on a victory lap over his young core and finding the right head coach already in the building and paid for another season (what luck!).
Because after a very productive February - though again we have to be careful when assigning usefulness of evidence in the post-trade-deadline regular season - the wheels have come off again for Jim Boylen’s Bulls.
Since the 4-OT marathon against the Hawks, the Bulls have gone in the tank, especially defensively. No, they’re not ‘tanking’: Zach LaVine isn’t being shut down, Robin Lopez is still playing a ton of minutes, and literally everyone is saying they’re not.
John Paxson said it last April. Michael Reinsdorf said it last week. The Bulls aren't prioritizing draft lottery positioning. Zach LaVine's imminent return is latest example. Jim Boylen: "We’re building something positive here. We're playing, man."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 14, 2019
They’re proudly this bad on accident.
It reached another low point on Sunday afternoon in Sacramento. The Kings, who if you recall not only beat the Bulls badly in Chicago but made fun of Boylen to the team after doing so, pounded the Bulls again to a nearly 30 point margin. The Bulls allowed 80 points in the paint, and gave up nearly half of their available defensive rebounds in the first half.
And that spirit...
All five Kings running out, no one on the Bulls hustling back to help Arcidiacono. pic.twitter.com/xX7hub8O52— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 17, 2019
The Bulls defense had been bad even when they were winning some games, and now more recently is getting in the ‘historically awful’ designation - 127.1 defensive rating over 4 games - that was previously reserved for what Boylen’s offensive unit was doing in his first few weeks.
They especially keep getting drilled in 3rd quarters, allowing another 40+ points to the Kings, theoretically a time when coaches adjust and motivate. It’s almost like Boylen doing stuff where he performatively gets ejected ‘defending his team’ while pulling the extremely rare move of calling out an opposing coach is just a stunt and doesn’t actually help anything...
I do genuinely wonder if management is choosing to write this stretch of games off (and simply not telling their boss’s son about it), but will keep the February games as ones to learn from, simply because the results were better, and everyone gets to keep their jobs phew!