Chicago Bulls are sending out wrong message with Jim Boylen

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Following news that the Chicago Bulls front office has decided to reward head coach Jim Boylen with a contract extension, it’s become clear that the organization doesn’t have their priorities in order.

Anyone who watched the Chicago Bulls play this past season under head coach Jim Boylen must be feeling frustrated and disappointed right now, given that GarPax just committed long-term to a guy who still acts as though he’s mentoring players in the ’90s, rather than 2019.

This is the sad reality that Bulls fans must come to accept, as their beloved team seemingly keeps hitting the pause button with their rebuilding plan. Despite their best effort to win as many games possible up until the last week of the regular season, the Bulls ended up winning five fewer games than they did in 2018.

Boylen, who took over as head coach in early December when the front office determined that Fred Hoiberg was no longer a good fit, ended up prolonging the Bulls’ struggles as a collective unit on the court, rather than alleviate them.

Despite not passing the eye-test with anyone who attempted to watch a typical full 48-minute losing effort, the front office unsurprisingly believes that Boylen has done a fantastic job since taking over, despite his team not winning games consistently, nor giving strong effort on both ends of the court.

Here’s a quote by John Paxson, per, explaining what the organization sees in him, both now and moving forward:

"“Jim has a strong vision on where he wants to take this team, and he has done a great job establishing the culture that we want this organization to stand for as we continue to progress. He has tremendous passion for developing young talent, is a strong communicator and a good fit for this team. The organization is confident in the direction that he is taking our players, and we are committed to him.”"

It’s hard to buy into what Paxson is trying to sell to the Bulls’ fan base because the same problems that had surfaced before Boylen took over are still there today, with hardly any signs of leaving.

The ultimate goal for an organization should be to win as many games possible, all while instilling great work habits on the court. Unfortunately, besides the obvious fact that the Bulls hardly did much winning under Boylen, prominent players such as Kris Dunn and even Lauri Markkanen to a lesser extent struggled down the stretch under Boylen’s watch, as opposed to showing signs of improvement.

Player development is crucial for a young team like the Bulls to get back to being a playoff contender, and this is an area where Boylen has yet to show a glimpse of progress in helping improve his players’ skill-sets. Maybe if organized practices spent less time having players run suicides and instead focused more on executing in-game drills, more progress would be made throughout the season.

If the Bulls’ organization wants to have more success on the court, make it known to the players that winning is most important. Committing to a lame-duck coach for the long-haul without even seeing what he can do for a full season is as baffling as it gets.

It’s clear that the front office doesn’t take winning all too seriously. If they did, they wouldn’t have given an extension to a guy who has yet to prove himself as a head coach. They would have instead followed a similar approach to the one the Chicago Cubs made following the 2014 season.

The Cubs, who clearly value winning a championship above all else, moved on from manager Rick Renteria after one losing season, despite him being known as a good mentor for younger players who builds a positive working relationship with everyone he meets. Theo Epstein and the front office opted for the more proven manager, Joe Maddon, because he had an established history of leading his less-talented teams on successful playoff runs. The result: a World Series championship in 2016.

Instead of following this approach, the Bulls opted for the safe, conservative route in keeping Boylen, who unlike Renteria, is hardly known as being a positive mentor for younger players to date.

GarPax chose the safer route, in large part because if they hired a well-established coach, expectations to win games in the near future while making a coveted playoff run would only increase. The Bulls front office doesn’t want that burden placed upon their shoulders anytime soon, because that would force them to make in-season trades to improve their team. Nine times out of 10, the front office gets burned in those types of situations, ultimately setting back the team’s progress even further. That’s why GarPax prefers to stick with what they’re already familiar with.

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This ill-advised move by GarPax will have major ramifications on the Bulls moving forward. Unless Boylen drastically changes both his coaching style and personality, this rebuilding period will continue to show little signs of progress, regardless of who’s on the court.