Obviously, what Zach LaVine and Thaddeus Young say to Arturas Karnisovas about Jim Boylen in private conversations will be different than what they share publicly with reporters.
Nevertheless, the two veteran players, on separate conference calls Friday, fielded questions about whether they believe Boylen has done enough as a coach to warrant being maintained by a new management regime that also features general manager Marc Eversley.
“I’m going to keep the same stance I always have. It’s not for me to judge somebody. I think he goes out there and does his best. I don’t think anybody in any organization in the NBA goes out there and tries to fail. Sometimes, it’s out of your power on won-loss record or what happens during the game. I know for a fact he tries and does his best. That’s all you can ask for sometimes,” LaVine said. “As a player, I just follow the lead and do my job. On decisions and things like that, I leave that up to higher management. That’s not my role in the organization. I think you know I was going to answer that correctly.”
Young also took the high road.
“That’s not really a question for me to answer. I think 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,” Young said. “That’s something you’ll have to ask Marc and Arturas and let them answer. For me, my job is to go out there and whatever coach I have at the time, let him lead and we follow. He’s giving us the game plan, and (we) go out there and execute the game plan to the best of our abilities and make sure that we’re playing as hard as we can. And for me, make sure the locker room stays together and make sure I help lead the guys and be very encouraging towards the guys.”
Upon his hiring as executive vice president, Karnisovas emphasized he would be seeking input from myriad sources as he evaluated all departments. That included player feedback on Boylen and his staff.
Karnisovas also said he planned to get to know Boylen personally before making a decision on his future. In a sign of his leadership style, Karnisovas has emphasized to Boylen and his staff to focus strictly on coaching in this unprecedented layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, empowering him for now.
Boylen has two seasons remaining on his contract and enjoys ownership support. However, Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf has made clear that Boylen’s future is the new management regime’s call.
With the Bulls not being invited to the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Fla., they won’t begin training camp for the 2020-21 season until likely November. Thus, there remains no urgency to resolve Boylen’s status.
Karnisovas also has a comfort level with Boylen’s lead assistant coach, Chris Fleming, from their shared time with the Nuggets. And Karnisovas recently picked up the 2020-21 option on assistant coach Nate Loenser, who has strong relationships with players and is adept at player development.