The Chicago Bulls are in the market for a new head coach, starting their first search in ten years.
It’s a big moment for Karnisovas and the Bulls franchise. Instead of riding with Boylen, and essentially buying himself a little bit more time on the rebuild by using him as a crutch for a lack of immediate success, Karnisovas is going to get his guy right away.
Who will it be? Karnisovas has promised a wide search, but some early names have been reported. And when looking for connections to the Bulls, it’s now to new management as opposed to Tim Floyd.
Sixers Assistant Coach Ime Udoka
Connection to the Bulls: Udoka was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers when new Bulls General Manager Marc Eversley was the Senior Vice President of Player Personnel in Philly. The former NBA player Udoka, comes from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree in San Antonio where he served as an assistant coach from 2012-2019. Coincidentally, several of those years in San Antonio coincided with Boylen’s tenure down there with Pop.
Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson
Connection to the Bulls: This is less of a connection than a statement of fact: the Bulls haven’t employed a head coach with previous head coaching experience at the NBA level since Scott Skiles in 2003. Atkinson compiled a record of 118-190 (38.3 percent winning percentage) in four years at the helm of the Brooklyn Nets, but the Nets did improve their record every year. Current Bulls lead assistant coach Chris Fleming, currently still in the building doing individual workouts with players, did serve under Atkinson in Brooklyn.
Denver Nuggets Assistant Coach Wes Unseld Jr.
Connection to the Bulls: The obvious one: contemporary of Karnisovas with the Denver Nuggets, credited with helping develop guys like Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Nikola Jokic. Unseld Jr. is the son of the more well known Wes Unseld Sr., a five-time All-Star and NBA Hall of Famer who is perhaps the best player in Washington’s franchise history.
Milwaukee Bucks Assistant Coach Darvin Ham
Connection to the Bulls: A top assistant for the Bulls rivals to the north the Bulls see him in a season as much as any other coach. Ham previously worked for the Atlanta Hawks when they had those really good teams for a few seasons and then followed head coach Mike Budenholzer to Milwaukee in 2018.
Toronto Raptors Assistant Coach Adrian Griffin
Connection to the Bulls: Griffin had three separate single-season stints with the Chicago Bulls during his playing days, the last coming during the 2007-2008 season. The Bulls loved him so much that he came back to coach for them between 2010-2015 under the tutelage of Tom Thibodeau. Most recently, he’s been the assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors and was part of that magical championship run last season. Griffin looked to be a sure-fire candidate until recently: his ex-wife accused him of domestic violence. Griffin has denied these allegations, but any of his current and potential future employers need to learn more.
Dallas Mavericks Assistant Coach Stephen Silas
Connection to the Bulls: With 20 years of NBA coaching experience, Silas has seen a few things in his day. He’s spent the last three or so years, helping to orchestrate the Dallas Mavericks offensive machine. Last season, the Mavs had the highest-rated offense in the entire league. He has never been a head coach at the NBA level before but has assistant coaching/scouting experience with the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards, and Golden State Warriors as well as the aforementioned Mavericks.
Minnesota Timberwolves Assistant Coach David Vanterpool
Connection to the Bulls: Vanterpool, interestingly, coached alongside Boylen (when Boylen was an assistant UNDER GREGG POPOVICH) as part of the Canadian National Team. But more relevant is after a fringe NBA-er mostly playing overseas, Vanterpool was on Terry Stotts staff in Portland for six seasons before being promoted to associate coach under Ryan Saunders in Minnesota. The man making that hire, TWolves GM Gersson Rosas, worked alongside Karnisovas in the Houston front office.