The Chicago Bulls did more than get themselves a new head coach — they backed themselves into a corner.
By now it’s no secret that I am not a fan of the Chicago Bulls decision-making process this week. To be clear, it’s not that I think Fred Hoiberg was a great coach and the right guy for the job — though I don’t think he received a fair shot.
Rather, it was the moves immediately following his firing that have left me scratching my head the last few days. With the hiring of Jim Boylen, the Bulls — but more specifically John Paxson and Gar Forman — are on their third coach in the last four years.
For reasons that defy logic, the pair doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Let’s do a quick review: They fired Tom Thibodeau who was successful, but whose rough demeanor apparently wore thin within the organization. So they followed him up with the laid back, easy going players coach like Hoiberg, who had a relationship with Forman.
They wanted a player who wasn’t as hard on his players as Thibodeau had been and they got it. Ironically, the primary reason they offered for relieving Hoiberg of his duties was the team’s lack of passion and intensity. Oh, you mean the coach you hired to be less intense than his predecessor was somehow — oh I don’t know — less intense? Spare me the pearl-clutching.
But let’s just put that bit of history aside for the moment. You would think they would have learned from their past mistakes and taken time to find the right coach and the right fit. But no. Instead, they rushed to name Jim Boylen the permanent head coach. In fact, the front office even went so far as to say they wanted him to be the coach next year!
With that statement, the Bulls management team of Tweedledee and Tweedledum — excuse me, I mean Paxson and Forman — have painted themselves into a corner. What if Boylen is an unmitigated disaster for the rest of the season? Or what if they simply realize the career journeyman assistant is not NBA head coaching material?
Well, there’s nothing they can do about it but grit their teeth and trot out this continuous line of BS to the fans. Because if they do anything else, it would be admitting defeat, and despite the owner’s unwavering support of these two, Jerry Reinsdorf would have no choice but to fire them both. He would have to or collapse under the weight of public pressure.
So it really doesn’t matter how competent Boylen is, you can bet that he will be the coach next season if Paxson and Forman want to keep their jobs. Therefore, Bulls fans better hope he’s the guy because he’s likely not going anywhere anytime soon.