CHARLOTTE — Saturday afternoon brought some temporary calm following the storm.
Coach Jim Boylen said he and Zach LaVine met in Boylen’s hotel suite to communicate further on Boylen’s decision to pull LaVine shortly after tipoff of the Bulls’ Friday night loss to the Heat for what Boylen called “three egregious defensive mistakes.”
Both principals termed the discussion as positive.
“I let him know how I felt,” LaVine said. “We’re not going to try and drag this out. We had a misunderstanding. We still have a lot of things to work out as a team — personal, coaching. We all have to be accountable for our actions.”
Boylen said LaVine’s postgame comments from Friday, in which LaVine said he felt singled out, didn’t bother him because he knows “Zach’s heart and what kind of person he is.” He said he and LaVine talk regularly.
“I know he cares about the team. I know he cares about playing good basketball. I know we all can get frustrated with a poor performance, me included with my performance. Those things happen,” Boylen said. “I just want him to be more consistent. He wants to be more consistent. We have a whole team I think that needs to be more consistent. I’ve held Lauri [Markkanen] out of fourth quarters. I’ve pulled Hutch (Chandler Hutchison) the other day because I wanted him to play better in that situation. My job is to try to get this team to move in the right direction. That’s what I try to do.”
Boylen’s decision Friday marked the third time this season he has pulled LaVine as a “message substitution.” He did so at the Pacers on Nov. 3 and at home against the Nets on Nov. 16. However, Friday’s instance proved the most glaring because it came so shortly after tipoff; LaVine was pulled alone for Ryan Arcidiacono and he sat for the longest stretch of the three.
Boylen acknowledged that LaVine felt singled out by the move.
“That’s the greatest love you can show somebody,” Boylen said. “It’s to try to help them become who they can become.”
LaVine said Boylen conveyed that same message to him during their meeting.
“To each their own. If that’s how he feels he has to coach me, that’s his prerogative,” LaVine said. “Like I said, I let him know how I felt and we’re in a better place now. So we’ll see how it goes.’’
Does LaVine want to be coached that way?
“I've had a lot of coaches, man. I can be coached any way. I feel like I’m extremely coachable. I don’t backlash a lot. I just feel like sometimes when I feel like I’m disrespected I’ve got to stand up for myself,” LaVine said. “We talked about the offense. We talked about the defense. We talked about the personal level. So I think it was good.
“We both want to win. We know that obviously if I’m not doing as good as I can do, it’s not going to be as good for the team. And if he feels like he has to get on me to help that, I’m all for it. I want to be a winning guy. I haven’t won anything in the NBA, and that’s why I think it gets frustrating because we’re 5-11.
“We’re trying to be a winning team and trying to do all these things to get this in the right footsteps, and I’m with whatever. I’ve had games where I’ve shot 10 times, and I didn’t complain. I’ve had games where I’ve had 37 [points], and we lost or won, and I didn’t complain. So I’m just trying to go out here and get some wins. That’s all I’m worried about.’’
Boylen also said LaVine knew why he was pulled Friday night. In fact, an assistant coach showed LaVine clips of the defensive miscues on an iPad during the game.
“Our goals are the same: For him to become the best player he can become and for our team to play better basketball more often. Nothing has changed on that. And we’re moving forward,” Boylen said. “Everything was explained to him. This is part of coaching. This is part of developing a young team. These moments of accountability, these moments of teaching, this is what coaching is. We’re going to keep doing it.”
Boylen said he believes he and LaVine share trust because of their shared desire to win and because of “the time we’ve spent together, the way we’ve worked together, the improvements he has made.”
Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.