CHICAGO – If they had restarted with every team in the league and played to 82 games, the odds were good that the Bulls’ season would have ended sooner than later.
The team was eight games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference when the season was paused on March 11th. At 22-43, they would have only had 17 games to make up the deficit, and a difficult schedule awaited the team in the final month.
So one way or the other, Jim Boylen’s future was going to be front and center for the franchise when the offseason arrived. It just happened to come in June instead of April for a new front office regime that took over during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the Bulls’ season was officially shut down on Thursday when they were left out of the league’s return to play tournament in Orlando, some wondered if Arturas Karnisovas would act quickly when it came to the head coach.
On Saturday, it was the contrary, with the executive vice president choosing to take his time to evaluate Boylen and his coaching staff.
“I haven’t met face-to-face yet. There haven’t been any practices. There haven’t been any games since I became a part of this organization,” said Karnisovas. “I take pride in my relationships that I cultivate with coaching staffs and my basketball operations staff. So I haven’t seen them, I’m looking forward to it.
“So I think after we found out that we were left out of the bubble, we’ll have all the time in the world to do so. I’m looking forward to that.”
Boylen’s tenure with the Bulls has been rocky since taking over the team’s rebuild from the fired Fred Hoiberg in December of 2018. A near mutiny in the first week over a practice following a back-to-back started things off on the wrong foot, and the team won just 22 games the first season.
Despite playoff expectations being set by management in training camp, the Bulls never showed the progress necessary to make that happen. He’s 39-84 since taking over the team, and while he’s had support from Michael Reinsdorf and former Executive VP John Paxson, many figure a change is forthcoming.
In evaluating his team from top to bottom, however, Karnisovas is careful not to jump to conclusions that others may see as obvious.
“Coaching in the league is very difficult and to make a decision about coaching is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing for executives,” said Karnisovas. “I look in a lot of aspects. Again, I’ve had numerous conversations. That said, I would like to be in the building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff, in meetings.
“We look forward to getting in the video room together; analyze the games, to watch games together. Talking to players and coaches, obviously everybody’s disappointed with the results of last year, they definitely underperformed. But watching games; I’m excited to watch because there is a lot of talent on this team.
“Again, in order to keep players and coaches accountable, I have to have personal relationships with them. That’s what I need to cultivate, that’s my objective for this offseason.”
Karnisovas will have plenty of time to do so with the Bulls on the outside looking in at the NBA’s return to play in Orlando.