We are still somewhere in the grieving process of the Bulls ‘new regime’ being dead on arrival: even with supposedly full autonomy over basketball, they can’t fire the basketball coach.
We’re at the steps where it’s just piling on circumstantial evidence that Jim Boylen is staying, and learning to accept it.
Late last week there was a truly abysmal column from KC Johnson at the Bulls flagship, where not only did he personally advocate for the “long play” of Arturas Karnisovas not immediately excising the worst coach in the league, but more worrisome is that this is likely informed speculation: where Ownership and Advisors are crying poor and thus don’t want further disruption to their organization’s balance sheet.
Most of the rationale KC lays out runs the gamut of nonsensical to insulting, and don’t need to be iteratively debunked more than we’ve already done here in the past few months. But it was fun to hear Dan Bernstein at 670TheScore do so directly to a frequently-sighing KC after publication.
But there is one excuse that I want to give attention to, which is ‘timing’:
...unprecedented nature of this offseason, which has afforded Karnisovas nothing but time.
...Not only are the Bulls still waiting to see if the NBA and National Basketball Players Association will reach agreement on formal activities for the eight teams not invited to the league’s restart on the Disney World campus in Florida, the start date of the 2020-21 season is unknown.
Let’s repeat that: The start date of the 2020-21 season is unknown
The story of the ‘delete eight’ doing some loser-bubble came and went a few weeks ago, but over the weekend picked up steam again in a report by Rick Bonnell at the Charlotte Observer saying that an announcement could come this week:
The proposal under discussion — which has not yet been approved by the league or the players union — would include:
▪ A week of practice at individual teams’ home facilities, starting the second week of August.
▪ Possibly two weeks of group workouts hosted by two teams not in the restart. Those cities have not yet been finalized. Teams traveling would likely be contingent on the players union approving teams scrimmaging each other.
The first part is less outright risky-for-no-reason than traveling and having games in other bubbles. Like it was speculated then, easy to see so many players opting out of this that it’d make any ‘competition’ even less meaningful than the fact that the games literally won’t count.
But even in a best case where practice starts mid-August: The Bulls 2019-20 season is over.
Let’s repeat that: The 2019-20 season is over.
It’s obvious that there will be nothing Karnisovas can learn about Jim Boylen in a haphazardly-competitive practice that he can’t know already from the season-plus of regular games Boylen’s botched. But even saying Boylen is to run this because it’s still part of last year is semantics. It’ll have been months since their last game, and even in a best case this will fall short of real games and be more like training camp. It’s the offseason.
And thus why the Bulls should be spending this ‘unprecedented’ time doing a coaching search. The owner’s son said as much when hiring Karnisovas, this is actually a good time to do things. They dodged a bullet with the Knicks coaching search not resulting in removing a potential candidate. But as John Hollinger at The Athletic noted when it came to Boylen, the front office should move on this before worrying about artificially extending last season in bogus scrimmages:
time is more crucial here than some may think. From my experience on the front office side, this is definitely the type of thing you want to deal with right now, while the clock is stopped. Trying to interview coaches in September and October, when the draft and free agency quickly take over your life, will just pile on craziness for a new group that already has several important decisions ahead of it.
Indeed, while next season’s start date is not known, the draft is set for October 16th. And Karnisovas is presently empowering Boylen and other scouting holdovers (so much for ‘full transformation’, plenty of ISU and Paxsons remain) to help in that effort. That’s bad!
The following scenario is now looking farther and farther from plausibility:
- Karnisovas sits on his hands, in part due to the Bulls season impractically being extended and ‘needing to see Jim in person’. (check, done)
- Boylen is empowered throughout this whole time and leads the Bulls practices and potential scrimmages for weeks.
- THEN, Karnisovas says “turns out everyone without the last name Reinsdorf or Paxson was right, this Boylen guy ain’t the guy”.
- Do a real coaching search.
Not only would this be perceived as very strange (if ‘not being fair to coaches’ was actually a concern, isn’t this worse process?) but as Hollinger says then you’re backing up your coaching decisions with draft prep. Hopefully the days of Gar “tens of decisions every year” Forman are in the past, but this new front office is unnecessarily complicating things in doing it this way.
Instead, do the simple thing: say your season is over, fire Boylen, have an assistant run the camp. The Bulls are not in the bubble as an unfair cirucmstance, it was because the team was so terribly-coached they couldn’t even make the extremely-low threshold to continue playing. It was why Karnisovas was hired in the first place. You can’t be a new regime and still behave like it’s the old season, even if the NBA technically decrees it so. I am decreeing it otherwise. Decreed!