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.
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.
Michael and Jerry Reinsdorf have offered support for Boylen, but multiple sources have stressed ownership trusts Karnisovas and Co. and will allow them to have the final say on basketball matters. Players Zach LaVine and Thaddeus Young spoke with the media in a Zoom meeting Friday, and each played politician with the Boylen question.
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.
While Boylen is hoping to stay, the easiest and most efficient way for Karnisovas to begin building the Bulls in his image is to bring in his own coach. Multiple rival executives who spoke to The Athletic on the condition of anonymity anticipate that is what the Bulls eventually will do, whether in the coming days or whenever the NBA announces plans for continuing or canceling its interrupted regular season. Either way, changes are coming.
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.
September 17, 2021 | 5:16 pm EDT Update
The Denver Nuggets have signed forward Petr Cornelie to a two-way contract, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.
The word in Spanish basketball circles, as reiterated to me Friday, is that Marc Gasol is most likely to play for Girona if he decides to play on, even though the LEB Oro is one level below Spain’s top tier. I’m told he has been working out with new Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio to stay sharp even after negotiating his release earlier this week from Memphis following the Grizzlies’ recent trade with the Lakers to take on the final year of Gasol’s last NBA contract.
Ballots for the NBA’s 75th anniversary team were due back to the league office today. The league previously announced that the official list of its 75 greatest players, as selected by “a blue-ribbon panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers and team executives,” will be revealed in October. The voters will also be revealed — not their full individual ballots but the names of those who made the selections.
Mark Berman: New #Rockets star Jalen Green throwing out the first pitch before the Astros play Arizona.
September 17, 2021 | 3:51 pm EDT Update
After securing the arrival of Mario Hezonja, Russian team UNICS Kazan will announce soon the signing of former NBA guard OJ Mayo.
UNICS Kazan is adding one more marquee name to its roster with O.J.Mayo having a one-year deal with the Russian club. While there’s no signed contract yet, that seems to be more a formality delayed by bureaucratic reasons.
Chris Grenham: Former Hawks guard Brandon Goodwin tells me he worked out with Celtics this week. There is no training camp agreement between Boston and Goodwin yet, but there is interest from both sides. Goodwin played in 47 games with Atlanta last year, averaging 4.9 points and 2.0 assists.