BULLS BOUNCE BOYLEN

WE BREAK DOWN THE TOP CAN­DI­DATES ON EXEC AR­TURAS KAR­NISO­VAS’ LIST TO BE­COME NEXT COACH

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOE COW­LEY

There was a lot the old Bulls front of­fice seemed will­ing to over­look in the Jim Boylen era. Boylen didn’t ex­actly en­dear him­self to his play­ers, and he def­i­nitely wasn’t a fan fa­vorite. And most of all, there was his .317 win­ning per­cent­age as head coach since De­cem­ber 2018 that couldn’t be ex­plained away by in­juries or bad luck.

Ac­cord­ing to a Bulls source, how­ever, Boylen also dis­played con­tin­ued be­hav­ior — even with new bosses in the build­ing — that was con­sid­ered “detri­men­tal to the or­ga­ni­za­tion,” lead­ing Ar­turas Kar­niso­vas, the new ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of basketball op­er­a­tions, to re­move Boylen from the po­si­tion Fri­day morn­ing.

Asked to de­tail the rea­sons for the fir­ing, Kar­niso­vas took the high road.

“Since it was a very unique sit­u­a­tion to be hired in April, we took our time,” Kar­niso­vas told re­porters in a tele­con­fer­ence call. “The re­stric­tions were lifted — a lit­tle bit more in­ter­ac­tion was in­volved. I think, at the end of the day, I would like to thank [chair­man] Jerry [Reins­dorf] and [pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer] Michael Reins­dorf for trust­ing me to make that basketball de­ci­sion. There were def­i­nitely dis­cus­sions with own­er­ship, but at the end of the day, the au­ton­omy was left up to me.”

Kar­niso­vas wouldn’t say whether Boylen’s be­hav­ior fac­tored in.

“The de­ci­sion was based on mainly of the basketball part of it, so a basketball de­ci­sion was made,” he said.

Asked specif­i­cally if he was aware of any be­hav­ioral red flags, he said, “Again, it was based on a basketball de­ci­sion.”

The Sun-Times learned that Boylen had a ver­bal run-in with a team chef sev­eral years ago — one of a hand­ful of in­ci­dents with per­son­nel in the or­ga­ni­za­tion. A team lawyer got in­volved, and Boylen was given a warn­ing. How­ever, the feel­ing was that Boylen be­came more and more com­fort­able un­der then-gen­eral man­ager Gar For­man, who was fired in April, and then-ex­ec­u­tive John Pax­son, who was re­as­signed to a se­nior ad­vi­sor role at the same time.

Ac­cord­ing to the source, once Kar­niso­vas and new gen­eral man­ager Marc Ever­s­ley were able to get in the of­fice con­sis­tently dur­ing the pan­demic, they got in­for­ma­tion from hu­man re­sources on Boylen and

wit­nessed his be­hav­ior them­selves. Fac­tor in neg­a­tive feel­ings among some play­ers toward Boylen and the Bulls’ ex­clu­sion from the league restart in Florida — mark­ing an end to their season — and the de­ci­sion was made to fire Boylen, even though he was well-liked by the Reins­dorfs.

In April, sev­eral key Bulls play­ers made their feel­ings about Boylen known to the new ex­ec­u­tives. Kar­niso­vas ac­knowl­edged that was a fac­tor.

“Do­ing this re­search, I mean, [the play­ers] are one of the com­po­nents of the cri­te­ria and eval­u­a­tion, so they were part of it,” Kar­niso­vas said. “Play­ers are al­ways a part of it.”

The mem­bers of Boylen’s coach­ing staff are ex­pected to stay on while they un­dergo their own eval­u­a­tions. For Kar­niso­vas, the pri­or­ity is be­gin­ning the search for the team’s 24th head coach, and he in­tends to be de­lib­er­ate in that process.

“Well, the sig­nal is we’re chang­ing things,” he said. “It sig­nals that we’re look­ing for­ward to what comes next. We just felt that this pro­gram needed a change and needed a change now, and I can’t wait to find the next coach for this group.”

Ime Udoka, a 76ers as­sis­tant coach, was on the radar months ago as the lead­ing can­di­date to re­place Boylen, and one scout said that hasn’t changed.

“There’s no dead­line [or] time­line on it,” Kar­niso­vas said. “I think, again, we live in very strange times, and we’re go­ing to do our dili­gence. We’re go­ing to start the search as of to­day.” ✶

“[THIS] sig­nals that we’re look­ing for­ward to what comes next. We just felt that this pro­gram needed a change and needed a change now, and I can’t wait to find the next coach for this group.’’

Ar­turas Kar­niso­vas

NAM Y. HUH/AP

Coach Jim Boylen talks to Bulls play­ers (from left) Wen­dell Carter Jr., Zach LaVine and Lauri Markka­nen dur­ing a time­out last De­cem­ber. The Bulls ended sev­eral months of won­der­ing when they fired Boylen on Fri­day.

LYNNE SLADKY/AP

Jim Boylen (with for­ward Daniel Gaf­ford) was an as­sis­tant un­der the Bulls’ pre­vi­ous coach, Fred Hoiberg, then was pro­moted when Hoiberg was fired in De­cem­ber 2018. Boylen had a .317 win­ning per­cent­age.

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