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Zach LaVine - Jim Boylen - Chicago Bulls
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Chicago Bulls EVP Not Ready To Announce Decision On Former Utes Coach Jim Boylen

Head coach Jim Boylen of the Chicago Bulls talks with Zach LaVine #8 in the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 29, 2020 in New York City.The New York Knicks defeated the Chicago Bulls 125-115. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Chicago Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas wasn’t ready to address former Utah Utes head coach Jim Boylen’s future with the franchise during his end of season press conference.

Karnisovas held a press conference with media members on Saturday, June 6. The Bulls were eliminated from the NBA’s restart of the 2019-20 season when the league’s Board of Governors approved a 22 team restart plan on June 4. Chicago wasn’t included due to their 22-43 record when the NBA halted play in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

During the stoppage of play, the Bulls hired Karnisovas as the organization’s new executive vice president on April 13.

Due to the pandemic, new Chicago executive said his only interactions with Boylen and other members of the team have only been by phone and video calls.

“They don’t know me,” Karnisovas said.

He has yet to have a face-to-face meeting with the former head coach of the Runnin’ Utes.

Karnisovas said that because of these circumstances, he wasn’t ready to make a definitive statement on Boylen’s future with the franchise.

“I know that you are anxious for me to comment definitively on our future of the Chicago Bulls. I understand that anticipation. That said, I take pride in being deliberate and thoughtful in my decision making and take the weight of my decisions seriously. I’m not inclined to make evaluations prematurely to satisfy our excitement to move this team forward,” Karnisovas told reporters. “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. I really take pride in my relationships that I cultivate with coaching staffs and my basketball operation staffs. I haven’t seen them. I’m looking forward to it. So after we found out we were left out of the bubble in Orlando, we’ll have all the time in the world to do, so I’m looking forward to that.’”

Although he wasn’t ready to comment on Boylen’s future on Saturday morning, the EVP said it’s a top priority for him.

“That is my No. 1 priority when I get in the city when I get in the building, is to get to know our coaching staff, meet the players and start the process of getting to know each other,” Karnisovas said. “I’ve got to know them before we keep each other accountable. I will cultivate a selfless attitude with the players and there’s not going to be any excuses. The youth, the injuries, all that stuff is not going to be an excuse moving forward because this group is too talented not to perform better.”

Under Boylen, the Bulls have posted a 39-84 record since he took over as head coach in 2018. Prior to becoming head coach, Boylen served as Chicago’s associate head coach under Fred Hoiberg.

Chicago has missed the postseason in four of the last five seasons as well.

“Coaching in the league is very difficult. To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing for executives. So I look at a lot of aspects. I’ve had numerous conversations. That said, I’d like to be in a building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff in meetings. We’re looking forward to getting in the video room together, analyze the games, to watch games together,” Karnisovas said. “Talking to players and coaches, obviously, everyone is disappointed with the result last year. They definitely underperformed. Watching games, I’m excited to watch because there’s a lot of talent on this team. In order for me 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 this offseason.”

Chicago Bulls players on Jim Boylen

In addition to Karnisovas’ comments, a couple of Chicago’s players spoke with the media about Boylen on Friday, June 5. Bulls guard Zach LaVine and forward Thaddeus Young shared their thoughts on the coach’s future.

“It’s not for me to judge somebody,” LaVine said. “I think [Boylen] goes out there and does his best. I know for a fact he does his best, and that’s all you can ask for sometimes. As a player, I try to go out there, follow the lead, go out there and do my job, and decisions on things like that I leave that up to higher management. That’s not my role in the organization.”

In November 2019, LaVine told Yahoo! Sports there were trust issues with him and Coach Boylen.

“I’m trying my best, I’ll say that. I’m playing my minutes and trying to do the best I can do, LaVine said. “It’s tough, especially when you’re in a rut. If he doesn’t trust me, it’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t trust you.”

“That’s not really a question for me to answer. That’s more up to the front office. Obviously, Jim is very energetic. He’s probably one of the most energetic coaches I’ve played for. My job is to go out there and basically help lead this team to try to win games and play to the best of my ability each night. It’s the same for each guy down the line. I don’t think that’s a question for me to answer,” Young said on Friday. “My job is to go out there and whatever coach I have at the time, let him lead and we follow.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Ime Udoka is the front runner to become the Bulls’ next coach if Chicago lets Boylen go.

Jim Boylen at Utah

Prior to this time in Salt Lake City, Boylen served as an assistant coach for the Michigan State Spartans and multiple NBA teams.

On March 27, 2007, the University of Utah hired Boylen as the school’s men’s basketball head coach.

During his first two seasons at Utah, Boylen led the Runnin’ Utes to the NCAA Tournament. In 2008, the Utes were Mountain West Conference champs.

Boylen’s final two seasons at Utah were opposite than the success he had in his first two seasons.

The Utes posted losing records both years and Boylen was fired on March 12, 2011.

After leaving Utah, Boylen returned to the NBA and served as an assistant with the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs before joining the Bulls organization in 2015.

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