The Chicago Bulls made a low-key but impactful move with their latest personnel move announced on Wednesday.
The Chicago Bulls announced that a current member of the staff would not be returning. Before you get too giddy with excitement, let me disclose it was not head coach Jim Boylen. Sorry — I didn’t mean to get your hopes up. However, the move could end up paying significant dividends in the future.
Of course, I’m referring to the Bulls’ decision to not pick up the option on the contract of head trainer Jeff Tanaka.
The move, first reported by Joe Cowley, comes on the heels of the Bulls being among the leaders in most injuries in the NBA over the last few years. In fact, it has been a constant source of pain (no pun intended) for fans, who have not only been forced to watch its favorite team playing at less than full capacity but have had to endure management using these injuries as an excuse for the lack of progress and player development.
Look, there is no getting around the fact that players do not get better by sitting injured on the bench. Teams, especially ones as young as the Bulls, need to play together to get better. But while everyone can agree on that point, they can also agree that injuries cannot continue to be used as a crutch (ok, I promise, that’s the last pun).
You may recall the Chicago Bears also among the league leaders in games lost to injury until 2018, when, prior to the season they revamped their training staff. However, over the last two seasons, the team has remained relatively healthy.
The Bulls are hoping for similar improvement, which shouldn’t be difficult when looking at the numbers. Below are the Bulls’ total games lost to injury over the last three years, with the league leader in parentheses.
- 2019: 209 (253)
- 2018: 318 (277)
- 2017: 277 (329)
As many in the media have pointed out since the news broke, Tanaka is well-liked by both the media and especially the players. But I don’t have to remind anyone that this is a results-driven business and the results have been unimpressive recently. The trainer’s singular mission is to keep his or her players healthy. When that person fails at that mission, it’s time to move on — and that’s just what the Bulls did.