Lame duck theory
Show of hands — how many of you would want to take a job where your manager was not guaranteed to be there more than one year? Probably not many. You’re likely saying ‘but that’s a faulty comparison because these guys are making millions of dollars.’ While that’s true, the reality is they will make the same amount, if not more, elsewhere.
The bottom line is if a player is going to commit long-term to a team, he’s going to want to know that the head coach is going to be there for his entire tenure. If a player joins the Bulls expecting to play for Jim Boylen (more on whether they would want to later), they don’t want to worry that a new coach will be there 12 months later introducing an entirely new system.
Although the Bulls gave Boylen a pay raise, his salary is still incredibly meager by NBA standards. He was making only $800,000 when hired, and even with his salary bump up to $1.6 million, only $1 million of that is guaranteed. Moreover, he is only signed through next season, despite management’s insistence that he’s their guy.
All of this means that if the Bulls wanted to part ways with Boylen after this season, while it would be another mark on the negative side of the ledger for John Paxson and Gar Forman, it would not cost them much financially. Will a player want to make a commitment to a coach who could already be on thin ice? Unlikely.