Time will tell whether the Bulls are better or worse off for it, but there's a different vibe inside the Advocate Center.
Head coach Jim Boylen ran a second straight two-plus hour practice on Wednesday - including a film session before - that he said included suicide sprints and other conditioning drills the day after the Bulls' 96-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
"We're old-school, we get on the line. Then we have certain drills we do within the line for that. But there's no short-cut to conditioning. There's no short cut to getting in shape," he said. "People think there is I think sometimes, or you can do this or you can do that. The only way you get in shape in this game is to get on the floor and do it. That's what we're going to do. We're going to do it every day."
Boylen's comments read more like a coach on the first day of training camp, not one taking over a team already past the one-quarter mark of their regular season. But Boylen, who is now a little more than 48 hours into the gig, is attempting to establish a culture that wasn't there under Fred Hoiberg.
For Boylen, it's about getting back to the basics and walking before you can run, despite all the running the Bulls apparently did on Wednesday.
That's why he and the Bulls had a brief film session immediately after Tuesday's game, their seventh consecutive defeat that made them the first team in the NBA to 20 losses.
The Bulls committed 18 turnovers and shot below 40 percent from the field. They managed just 90 points and dropped their league-worst offensive rating since Nov. 12 to 96.3, nearly 3.0 points worse than 29th-ranked Atlanta.
But Boylen was teaching on the fly in that loss, grabbing a few guys during timeouts to give further instruction and having an early hook on players who failed to execute on either end.
"I learned from (Gregg Popovich), you can show film after the game. We showed five or six clips right after the game, because they're fresh, they're live and that's when you can make the most impact. So yeah, we're going to try to coach our guys on the fly and on the spot," he said. "It's more about them understanding that's the way we're going to do it around here, that's the culture we're trying to build."
The energy and competitive spirit, a trio of buzz words that will remain constants as long as Boylen is in charge, was improved on Tuesday. Even against the slower-paced Pacers the Bulls allowed 96 points and showed a noticeably different effort on that end of the floor.
That attitude should only improve and become more consistent with the impending returns of Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis.
Both players practiced in full with the Bulls again on Wednesday as they had on Monday, in addition to getting in a Tuesday practice with the G-League's Windy City team. Though it doesn't seem likely that either will be ready to make their returns this weekend, they're certainly closing in on it.
Dunn said his knee is "getting there" and that while it isn't 100 percent he hasn't been hindered at all in practice.
"Did everything (Wednesday)," Dunn said. "Just taking it step by step, trying to get my legs and rhythm back, my conditioning back, my feel of the game and just go from there."
Portis, who has been a few days behind in his own MCL sprain rehab, said the knee feels "great" and that he's responded well to the first major injury of his life.
Aside from the talent they'll bring to a Bulls lineup in desparate need of it, Dunn and Portis are the two unquestioned vocal leaders and should infuse more of that energy and competitive spirit that Boylen has preached in his first three days on the job.
"They were spirited, they were competitive. Bobby Portis has the ability to raise the level of your practice, which is something we need," Boylen said. "Raise the competitiveness and determination. He does that. He’s got a great soul, he’s got a great spirit for the game. Kris is a guy that’s so superior athletically, it just changes the way you look right off the bat.
"I'm hoping we can get them back soon."