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Bulls players take high road as new regime plays long game on Jim Boylen

Bulls players take high road as new regime plays long game on Jim Boylen

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.

RELATED: Zach LaVine, Thad Young share end-of-season disgust, coronavirus concerns

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Why Jimmy Butler wants to play without name or social justice message on jersey

Why Jimmy Butler wants to play without name or social justice message on jersey

Jimmy Butler has always been comfortable taking the road less traveled.

So his answer to whether he’ll wear one of the league-approved social justice messages on the back of his Miami Heat jersey shouldn’t surprise.

“I have decided not to. With that being said, I hope that my last name doesn’t go on there as well,” Butler said during his remote media availability session from the NBA’s restart on the Disney World campus in Florida. “I love and respect all the messages that the league did choose. But for me, I felt like with no message, with no name, it’s going back to like who I was. And if I wasn’t who I was today, I’m no different than anybody else of color.

“And I want that to be my message in the sense that just because I’m an NBA player, everybody has the same rights no matter what. That’s how I feel about my people of color.”

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Butler would need NBA approval for his unique idea. If he received it, it would symbolically place him back in the same status of anonymity as many African-Americans who have experienced police brutality, a crucial point in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’m hoping I get that opportunity though,” Butler said. “I really am.”

Butler admitted he considered sitting out the league’s 22-team restart to make a statement in that fashion, a strong admission from one of the league’s most competitive players. But ultimately, the former Bulls All-Star forward said just as much positive impact can occur by playing.

“Being away from your family is hard. What’s going on in the world right now it’s hard. But being here, it’s also hard. It’s not easy for anybody,” he said. “But we get the opportunity to talk amongst each other, learn about each other and everybody’s stories that’s here. And knowing that we’re all in this together, we’re all in this for the greater good. And I can tell you that everybody here is with the equality because it’s real. It needs to happen. There just has to be more action behind it.”

Butler called life inside the so-called bubble “easy,” a testament to the intricate and exhaustive planning undertaken by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association. The Heat have been one of the surprise stories of the NBA season, and Butler offered a colorful answer when asked how he kept sharp during the four-month hiatus since COVID-19 paused the league.

“The whole thing was just find a way to compete, whether it be at cards or at dominoes or a footrace, whatever it is. Keep your mind thinking, ‘I have to be the best. I have to win,’” Butler said. “And then as far as working out goes, if you have a gym at your house or a basket, yeah, go ahead. Work out. Shoot. But just ride the bike. Lift some weights. Do some yoga. Do some pilates, whatever that might be. And I think the Miami Heat did a great job of using Zoom to do pilates, yoga, lift together, talk. I think that was huge to getting back to where we are right now.”

Back in April, Butler even sent portable baskets to all his teammates. So, yes, Butler is ready. He always is.

RELATED: 'He looks great': What a reinvigorated Joakim Noah can bring to title-contending Clippers

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NBA insider reveals most popular item requested by players in Disney bubble

NBA insider reveals most popular item requested by players in Disney bubble

Many NBA players are big time gamers. 

Gordon Hayward is famously obsessed with “Starcraft.” Dwight Howard loves “Call of Duty” so much he appeared in a commercial for the franchise in 2011. Zach LaVine often streams “Call of Duty: Warzone” on his Twitch account. And, seriously, just look at Meyers Leonard’s bubble setup:

 

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Incidentally enough, it turns out the biggest request by players inside the Disney bubble so far is gaming-related. According to NBA writer Keith Smith, who was also 20 years an employee of Disney, the most popular request by players during their first week at the campus was gaming chairs. And it makes sense. No one wants to sit in a normal hotel room chair for four hours when gaming — that includes the top athletes in the world.

“I heard the big delivery in the last two days was gaming chairs, because they don’t want the hotel chairs,” Smith told Jason Goff on the latest episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast. “They’re asking for all sorts of stuff.”

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Also on the show, Smith discussed what life is like inside the bubble for players and team personnel — from extracurricular activities, to food, to security and more. Smith was the first national writer to speculate about Disney as an option for the league to restart its season in an article for Yahoo! Sports back in April, and has been all over the story since.

Smith also shared why he’s optimistic the league will be able to finish despite the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases recently in Florida.

Listen to the latest Bulls Talk Podcast here or via the embedded player above.

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