Bulls make it official, sign Boylen to contract extension
When the regular season ended, Bulls executive vice president John Paxson suggested the Bulls would work out a contract extension soon with head coach Jim Boylen.
That process became official Friday, with the Bulls announcing the new deal. Terms of the contract were not immediately available.
"Jim has a strong vision on where he wants to take this team, and he has done a great job establishing the culture that we want this organization to stand for as we continue to progress," Paxson said in a statement. "He has tremendous passion for developing young talent, is a strong communicator and a good fit for this team. The organization is confident in the direction that he is taking our players, and we are committed to him."
Boylen was promoted from lead assistant and took over for Fred Hoiberg Dec. 3. That was a surprising move, since the Bulls had struggled with several early-season injuries and Hoiberg didn't get a chance to work with the full roster. The Bulls went 5-19 under Hoiberg, then 17-41 with Boylen.
There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, especially during the first week with Boylen. The day after beating Oklahoma City at home, the Bulls didn't have the same energy against Boston at the United Center. Boylen pulled the starters a few minutes into the third quarter and never sent them back in, eventually suffering a franchise-record 56-point defeat.
Boylen scheduled a practice the next day, which generally never happens in the NBA after a set of back-to-back games, and some players balked at the idea. The Bulls ended up having a lengthy team meeting that day instead.
Boylen set out to improve the defensive fundamentals and accomplished that goal in his first few weeks on the job, while the offense quickly dropped to the worst in the NBA. Eventually, Boylen tweaked the offensive plan to feature multiple ballhandlers, allowing Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and others to push the ball upcourt and try to get the defense on its heels. For a few weeks, the Bulls ranked among the NBA leaders in offensive rating.
The team made a major trade in February, acquiring forward Otto Porter Jr. from Washington for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker. At first, it seemed to be a great fit. Porter scored a career-high 37 points in his fourth game with the Bulls and the team went 7-3 in the first 10 games he played. But then more injuries set in, along with the lack of urgency to move up in the standings, and the Bulls finished the season losing 13 of their last 16.
Some fans may not be excited by this news, but the players seemed to buy into Boylen's old-school quirks as the season progressed. Management wasn't anxious to make another coaching change and felt Boylen needed some security. The plan is to upgrade the assistant coaching staff at one or two spots this summer.
The most important day of the Bulls' off-season is approaching May 14 when the NBA draft lottery is held in Chicago. The Bulls have a 12.5 percent chance at the top pick and could end up drafting anywhere between first and eighth.