Boylen has ’em out of breath

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY JOE COWLEY, STAFF RE­PORTER jcow­[email protected]­times.com | @sun­times_hoops Jim Boylen

Bulls guard Zach LaVine knows it has to let up at some point.

Make that, he hopes it’s go­ing to let up at some point.

The Jim Boylen era kicked off Mon­day, with 2½-hour prac­tices Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day, then a 90-minute shootaround Fri­day.

LaVine gave an un­com­fort­able laugh when asked how he felt about all the ex­tra work Boylen has put the play­ers through since his pro­mo­tion from as­so­ciate to head coach af­ter Fred Hoiberg’s fir­ing.

“You know . . . yeah,” LaVine said. “Gotta get used to it.”

De­cid­ing af­ter Tues­day night’s loss in In­di­ana that the play­ers needed to be bet­ter con­di­tioned, Boylen has backed that up with long prac­tices full of run­ning, in­clud­ing some old-school sui­cide drills.

“We’ve had some run­ning . . . some run­ning,” LaVine said. “It’s OK. He wants to make his mark. You have to un­der­stand that. I think things will slow up as the sea­son goes on.”

But for now, it’s the new norm, and Boylen won’t apol­o­gize for it.

“Our will needs to be bet­ter when we’re tired, so hope­fully we’ll be less tired, and hope­fully our will grows from what we’re work­ing on,” Boylen said. “That’s a big is­sue with us right now — our will comes and goes dur­ing the game. If you’re men­tally tougher, if you’re in bet­ter shape, I think maybe your will can last a lit­tle longer.”

The nice thing for Boylen is this group hasn’t re­sisted the ex­tra work — at least not yet. Be­cause the Bulls have one of the younger ros­ters in the league, his word is law so far.

“What I talk about is, are you coach­able? Do you honor coach­ing?” Boylen said. “Are you teach­able? Can you learn how to play the right way? When you’re coach­able, teach­able, you be­come re­li­able, and we’re try­ing to be­come re­li­able, and we’re not there yet.”

Boylen be­lieves he can get the Bulls to that place.

“Be­cause I’m di­rect and hon­est, and they’re go­ing to know ex­actly where they stand in ev­ery mo­ment, ev­ery day,” he said. “The great guys I worked for, that’s what they do, and that’s what I want to do. These guys know that. They know how I op­er­ate, and I’ve op­er­ated that way since I’ve been here. Di­rect and hon­est. No­body likes to be told the truth when it’s not good for them, but at the end of the day, they know deep down in­side that it’s what they needed to hear.”

An­other day

If the Bulls weren’t play­ing a back-to-back Fri­day and Satur­day, there’s a good chance both for­ward Bobby Por­tis (right knee) and guard Kris Dunn (left knee) would have played Fri­day night against the Thun­der.

While it seems they could both be back Satur­day against the Celtics, Boylen wasn’t com­mit­ting.

“They had a good day,” Boylen said af­ter the two worked out Fri­day. “I’m not try­ing to be vague — I just don’t know. We kind of wait to see how they re­spond in the morn­ing. It’s one of those types of things. They do their check-in and we go from there.”

Long road back

Guard Den­zel Valen­tine, who had re­con­struc­tive surgery on his left an­kle last week, told re­porters that as long as there are no set­backs, he should start run­ning by Fe­bru­ary. He stood be­hind his de­ci­sion to have the sea­son-end­ing surgery, say­ing it was ei­ther go­ing to be now or later.

JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IM­AGES

Zach LaVine, who sur­vived some un­usu­ally run-heavy prac­tices this week, leaps for a pass Fri­day night.

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