Dan the pan: Gafford zings Boylen
Rookie on coach: ‘I don’t like him a lot, but he OK’
Rookie Daniel Gafford didn’t need a private Zoom meeting with the Bulls’ new front office to make his feelings known about coach Jim Boylen.
Rather, the big man simply took to his Twitch account to offer his opinion.
“I’m going to answer this question, but I’m not going to read it out,’’ said Gafford, while he was streaming some NBA 2K20 on Monday. “As a matter of fact, I will read it out — ‘Do you like Jim Boylen?’ He [all right]. I don’t like him a lot, but he OK. Got some things he can work on, got some things he can get better at as a person and as a coach. I’m not going to hate on him. I’m not going to hate the man.’’
The 6-10 second-round pick out of Arkansas certainly didn’t do his coach any favors with those comments. Not when Boylen’s reputation with his players wasn’t on the best footing to begin with.
The Sun-Times reported several months ago that executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has received mixed messages from key players in private conversations during his first week on the job. That carried a lot of weight in the front office’s willingness to part with Boylen despite being well-liked by ownership.
Besides comments the new regime was hearing from players, the Sun-Times also reported that there were some behind-the-scenes issues with Boylen that didn’t fall in the coach’s favor and couldn’t be ignored by Karnisovas and new general manager Marc Eversley.
Add Gafford’s comments to the growing file.
And while Gafford carries only a little weight in the current player hierarchy of the Bulls, he’s still a high-ceiling prospect that showed some raw talent before the season was shut down.
In 43 games, Gafford averaged 5.1 points and 1.3 blocks in 14.2 minutes.
A source told the Sun-Times on Tuesday that the Gafford comments don’t come as a surprise, especially because Gafford felt Boylen was extremely hard on him in fall camp. Boylen even admitted he was being a “hardass’’ on the rookie but explained that he saw potential in the center and didn’t want him wasting it.
That sounds fair, but the problem for Boylen is there are very few players who have come out and said, “Jim is our guy and the right coach for this job moving forward.’’
There have been more, “I mean, he has a voice. He’s been our coach all year, so, hey, whatever happens to him is what happens. But for now, he’s our coach. It is what it is.’’
That was the attitude of Denzel Valentine late in the season when he was asked by the Sun-Times about Boylen and if the players were still listening to him.
So why is this entire issue still in limbo? Because the Bulls are still in limbo. The organization still is holding out hope that the current 22-team bubble in Orlando, Florida, holds firm, giving birth to the “Chicago 8’’ bubble for the remaining teams that were left out.
That would give Karnisovas the perfect opportunity to evaluate Boylen and the way he interacts with his players and staff, making any move he makes fair in the eyes of the Reinsdorfs.
The new executive has insisted several times that he would be “deliberate’’ in the coaching evaluation process and has one advantage on his side: Time.
“In order for me to keep players and coaches accountable, I have to have personal relationships with them,’’ Karnisovas said last month. “That’s what I need to cultivate. That’s my objective this offseason.’’
Bulls coach Jim Boylen chats with rookie Daniel Gafford during a game against the Heat in December.