The Kings have no idea what Chicago Bulls team will show up Monday evening. On Friday, the Bulls shocked the Oklahoma City Thunder for a two-point win, just their sixth victory of the season. The next night they rolled over and lost to the Boston Celtics 133-77.
It’s not often you see a 56-point blowout in the NBA. In fact, it’s the worst margin of defeat in Bulls history and the players pinned it on new head coach Jim Boylen.
According to reports, the Bulls players are, “on the verge of a full-blown mutiny,” in Boylen’s first week on the job. Issues with Boylen’s coaching style and grueling practices led to a team meeting on Sunday, first with the players and then as a team.
After 19 years as an assistant, Boylen is getting his first chance running the show and it’s not going well. He took over for Fred Hoiberg, who posted a 5-19 record this season and a 115-155 showing over the last three-plus years.
Boylen has worked with plenty of great coaches, including 11 seasons with Rudy Tomjanovich in Houston and two seasons on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio.
The Kings have been in this position before and it breeds chaos. Switching coaches midstream rarely works out and it often leads to a massive downward spiral.
Since the departure of Rick Adelman following the 2005-06 season, Sacramento has pulled the plug on a coach in-season four times if you include both Michael Malone and Tyrone Corbin during the 2014-15 campaign.
Replacements coaches, including Corbin, Kenny Natt, Keith Smart and George Karl finished a combined 49-126 over the stretch.
When you have a young roster, like both Chicago and Sacramento, stability is key. Hoiberg might not have been the answer, but the Bulls front office likely understood that coming into the year.
In bringing a new voice, Boylen is trying to push a second training camp on the players, this time in the middle of the season. He’s also attempting to communicate with an extremely young group and by the looks of things, he’s having trouble finding common ground.
The Kings come into Chicago at 13-12 and looking to finish their road trip at 3-1. Behind the coaching of Dave Joerger, the Kings have quickly developed an identity of their own this season, despite their inexperience as a group. Their focus has been on self-improvement over scheming for opponents.
Sacramento has no idea what kind of Bulls team will show up and they likely don’t care. So far this season they have put the blinders on to what is happening outside of the locker room.
Be it the team’s own drama surrounding clashes with the front office and the coaching staff or the expectations from NBA experts that had the team winning 25 games, the group seems unaffected by the noise.
The Bulls have talent. They should be better than 6-21 on the season. But the NBA is a tough business. Avoiding drama is a luxury Chicago doesn’t have and it will likely cost them dearly throughout the remaining three quarters of the season.