In case you missed the Friday news dump on our heads, the Bulls publicly punted on next season, maybe more, by letting Jim Boylen take full control of the product. Of course he only has so much real control, as John Paxson has taken a very direct interest in leading his team without doing the work, and they share the same outdated basketball philosophies.
You’d think even if the Bulls did drink their own #SeeRed kool-aid and believe in Boylen as this great teacher and motivator for the young core, there was no urgency to give him more years on his contract. At the least wait until after the lottery, right?
But KC Johnson of the Tribune reports that the Bulls feel they need to strengthen Boylen’s standing immediately so they can hire better support:
The extension is...also rooted in the organization’s desire to upgrade Boylen’s staff. Boylen now has security to present to potential lead assistant coaching hires, a process that sources said Boylen has begun.
That’s a good one. There is already widely-held perception (based on, ya know, actual events) that the Bulls do not treat coaches well.
But I suppose there is a bit of awkwardness when trying to get an assistant when you only have a single year on your own deal. Boylen himself was on a multi-year contract as an associate head coach under Fred Hoiberg. And of course Boylen now has Hoiberg’s job...so maybe this is considered a good spot since chaos is a ladder?
After Boylen ascended to the lead chair, the already small assistant staff was stretched further: they brought over some people from the G-League team, made Karen Stack-Umlauf sit behind the bench while also managing the hotel buffet orders, and lightly shoved Randy Brown out the door.
That last bit could be received as Boylen consolidating power from Gar Forman, as Brown was a known Gar-phile to the level of being credibly accused of locker-room spying for the GM.
As it stands now, the assistants are:
- Shawn Respert and Dean Cooper - Boylen connections. Respert played at Michigan State when Boylen was an assistant, and Cooper was on the 1990s Houston Rockets staff with Boylen.
- Nate Loesner - came as part of the great Iowa State migration. Interestingly, Charlie Henry was part of this group as well on the G-League staff with Loesner, but this summer left the Bulls to be an assistant at University of Alabama.
- Pete Myers - Org.-lifer
Boylen, though he’s been in the league (and the college ranks) for decades, is embarking on his first full season as a head coach. So maybe the Bulls look for experienced ex-head coaches as the lead assistant. This was tried before when the team foisted Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff on Vinny Del Negro. And that ended all very Bulls-y, with the owner (!) complaining of too many cooks in the kitchen and paying them too much to effectively retire. At the time of his hire, I thought Boylen himself was an outside-the-box hire not traditionally connected to the usual Bulls talent pools, only later realizing he had that Michigan State background the Bulls seem to like between Scott Skiles, the other Jim Boylan, and general affinity for Tom Izzo because he likes to scream at teenagers.
Incredibly, the same people are still in charge. They theoretically will try for a capable experienced assistant...but one not TOO capable as to get credit or potentially usurp Boylen.
So let’s have some fun and try to guess this: who will Boylen, emboldened with a new contract, choose for his staff? Or more accurately who will Paxson, Forman, Reinsdorf, and Reinsdorf II approve? So let’s crowdsource who that will be. I want us to search every Dynasty roster, Iowa State golf outing, Jud Heathcoate disciple, attendee to a Doug Collins basketball camp, house in the Deerfield-Northbrook-HighlandPark area, find me someone with connections who has the credentials and charisma to convince the Bulls to make the hire, yet also a lack of ambition as to not upset the power dynamic.
It really doesn’t matter much, except the next hire likely will be Bulls interim coach when Boylen is canned in 12-18 months.