NBA rumors: Kenny Atkinson among Bulls head coaching candidates

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Does that coaching history explain why new Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley are being so deliberate in assessing current coach Jim Boylen? Joe Cowley of the Chicago Suns-Times on 670 The Score: There is a perception problem, and when you come from the outside – like Arturas did and Marc Eversley have – you know what that perception problem is. Carlisle, the Dallas coach, has made it very clear the disdain the coaches association and a lot of coaches have for the Bulls and the practices they have toward coaches. The way they’ve treated them as commodities for more than three, four decades, the way they’ve fired guys on Christmas Eve. So, there is a perception problem that I think these guys want to change coming in now to this that the old regime didn’t care about nor did they maybe even see fully.
It’s twofold. They’re buying time because they have time to buy, but also I think it’s also a perception thing that they’re looking to change. As long as Jerry Reinsdorf sits in that powerful chair and he’s allowed executives to treat managers and coaches like this – look, everyone thinks players talk. Coaches talk, too. This place – in the Bulls and the Advocate Center – does not have a good reputation with coaches.

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Sources have told the Sun-Times that 76ers assistant Ime Udoka is the front-runner to become the Bulls’ new coach, with Raptors assistant — and former Bulls assistant — Adrian Griffin also in the picture.
While keeping in mind this is a report based on a hypothetical (if realistic) scenario where Boylen loses his job, it would not be a surprise to see Udoka get his first crack as a head coach next season, whenever that is. Well-regarded in coaching circles prior to arriving in Philadelphia, the Sixers made him one of the league's highest-paid assistants, plucking him away from Gregg Popovich's staff in San Antonio last June to offer his services behind Brett Brown.
For those who aren't familiar with how Brown sets up his staff, he believes in doling out specialized responsibilities in a manner similar to NFL staffs. Udoka was tasked with being the team's "defensive coordinator" this season, and you could often see him barking instructions from the sideline on big defensive possessions and pulling guys aside for last-minute instructions. And some of his instructions were just about basic fundamentals, like making sure defenders were showing their hands while fighting through screens.
While the Sixers were not the world-beating unit many thought they could be this season — Udoka himself said their roster was like "being in a candy store" as a defensive coordinator before the season — defense was certainly the strength of the team. If the season were canceled tomorrow, they would finish sixth in defensive efficiency, and that was the only part of the game where they were able to consistently take advantage of their personnel.
Boylen has laid low since the NBA suspended its season on March 11. His lone public comments came two weeks ago, in the form of a team-issued press release in which he welcomed Karnisovas, congratulated Michael and Jerry Reinsdorf and thanked former bosses John Paxson and Gar Forman once more. Behind the scenes, however, Boylen is working as if he’ll be in place next season. A league source told The Athletic minor changes already are in the works with the current staff.
Karnisovas, according to a source, wants to give his head coach, whether it’s Boylen or someone else, full autonomy in choosing his staff while the revamped front office focuses on player acquisitions. Until now, the Bulls had little reason to bother addressing Boylen’s future. And for as long as play is suspended — with no real end in sight — there is no rush.
So who could the next coach be? Two current assistant coaches are standing out as increasingly possible Boylen replacements whenever the job may open: Toronto’s Adrian Griffin and Philadelphia’s Ime Udoka. Both have ties to the new front-office regime. Both have long been mentioned in coaching circles as lead-man material. And on multiple levels, both fit the mold the Bulls previously have pursued.
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September 17, 2021 | 5:16 pm EDT Update
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September 17, 2021 | 3:51 pm EDT Update