Bulls

Former Bulls coach Boylan latest interim to succeed early

980233.png

Former Bulls coach Boylan latest interim to succeed early

NEW YORKWhats the secret for these NBA interim coaches this season?

During his five-game stint as Lakers head coach, Bernie Bickerstaff lost a single game and generally had the high-profile team looking more cohesive than either his deposed predecessor, Mike Brown, or his successor, current coach Mike DAntoni.

Meanwhile, P.J. Carlesimo, installed as Brooklyns temporary coach after Avery Johnson was fired, has also dropped a lone contest, giving the Nets a 6-1 record during his short tenure.

Then, theres Milwaukees Jim Boylan, whose Bucks squad the Bulls fell victim to Wednesday night at the United Center, giving him a 2-0 mark as Scott Skiles in-season replacement for the second time. The former Marquette floor general was known in Chicago before the Bucks beat the Bulls on the latters home court for the second time this season, as he took over for Skiles on Christmas Eve of the 2007-08 campaign, leading the underachieving bunch to a 24-32 record for the remainder of the season.

Since then, the affable longtime NBA assistant seems to have grasped the nuances of the midseason takeover, as hes instilled confidence in players who perhaps lost some of it while toiling under Skiles, while prodding them to give maximum effort.

My approach is totally different than it was five years ago. Im more comfortable in this position. After reflecting on it for a while, I felt that I was too concerned, when I was coaching here in Chicago, with trying to hang on to the job, he explained Wednesday.

I was too focused in on the specific moment, as opposed to kind of seeing the big picture and trying to work with that. I told the guys the other day that I was just going to have fun, coach as well as I can coach and motivate these guys.

Boylan discussed empowering the likes of versatile stretch power forward Ersan Ilyasova, struggling this season after last years breakout campaign led to an offseason contract extension, and talented rookie big man John Henson with the playing time to at least attempt to reach their potential: Get Ersan some minutes out there so he can start feeling good about his game. Give John a chance to compete a little bit, experience the league.

Not that Skiles wasnt trying to develop the players on Milwaukees rosterregardless of anonymous sources claiming that the former NBA point guard hated his team, anybody familiar with Skiles competitive nature understands that he wants to winbut sometimes, a new, if familiar, voice is needed after a coach has been in place for a while, even on a team in position to make the playoffs and compete for the Central Division title at the present time.

I just think Scotts meant to be a coach and he loves it, and theres teams out there that can use a guy that can come in and give them some structure, and teamsjust like past teams that hes coached in Phoenix, here and then in Milwaukeeteams that have been struggling a little bit and need someone to come in, and really captain the ship, said Boylan, who was on Skiles staff since his former boss first shot to at being an NBA head coach, in Phoenix.

Thats what Scott does, so Im sure theres teams out there that will look at that situation and say, You know what? We need a guy like that to come in here and get us moving in the right direction. So, I believe hell be coaching again.

Either way, Boylan is now in a situation reminiscent of another division foe two years back, when ex-Pacers head coach Jim OBrien was fired during the season, assistant Frank Vogel took over and guided a talented, capable squad to the playoffs, where they gave the top-seeded Bulls a battle in the first round, changing the perception of the team, which is now viewed as just shy of true contending status.

Im excited to be back here in Chicago. Its funny because the first two games wins over the Suns and Bulls Im going to be coaching against two of the teams that Ive been with. Then, I thought about it for a while and I said, Ive been with a lot of teams, so it doesnt really mean all that much, Boylan quipped, before discussing any expectations surrounding the Bucks.

I try not to even think about that. We have a team that I believe in, were sitting around .500, were seventh in the East, I believe, so were just going to keep moving forward from there. Im not worried about where we were. I just want our team to play well. Its pretty simple, not very complicated and the guys understand that. I told them that this is their teamthis is their teamand they will determine how far we go. If they come to work every day, if they prepare physically and mentally, then theyll be the ones to decide whether we make the playoffs or what position were in at the end of the season.

Its been a little bit busy, but weve got a practice day Thursday, so Im going to use that to finish up some business with some guys individually, just kind of let everybody know what Im thinking. But its been good so far. Guys have been really open, receptive, he continued, noting that, like the last time Skiles parted ways with an employer, it happens pretty quick, not giving Boylan much advance notice.

The guys have been great. Everybodys responding and guys are going in with good attitudes, and coming out with good attitudes. Its tough sometimes, just sitting on the bench and Ive got other guys. Ive got Marquis Daniels and Drew Goodenthose guys havent even playedJoel Pryzbilla and veteran guys, who have treated this situation like real professionals. Thats a credit to them.

A two-game sample size might not be enough to gauge how the rest of Milwaukees season will go, but the easygoing interim coachs seemingly strong relationship with his players should make things more seamless, as his offseason work with young players like star point guard Brandon Jennings and emerging big man Larry Sanders should allow them to continue thriving.

One of the things with Larry was that he got himself in really good shape and I think that enabled him to get out on the floor for extended minutes and be able to play the game, and also, think the game. Sometimes when you get fatigued, you make mistakesyou make mental mistakes, you make physical mistakesso I think that conditioning enabled him to be productive and to be honest, Ive never seen a guy make the transformation that he made from where he was in the summertime, which is not that long ago, to where he is right now. Its great to see. Im really happy for Larry. Great guy and he plays with a lot of passion, and I always tell him, Make the passion work for you. Dont let it work against you, he explained about Sanders, the leagues leading shot-blocker this season.

I think its something that Ill have to stay on top of with him. Weve talked about it, the other coaches have talked to him about it and Larry understands, and Ive seen him out on the floor catch himself, which is the beginning of dealing with it.

Jennings, while he praised Skiles for permitting him to run the show for Milwaukee as a rookie, during which he had a 55-point game, talked about feeling more freedom after Wednesdays game. Of course, he did go for 35 points and engaged in a trash-talking tete a tete with Bulls backup point guard Nate Robinson, including staring down the Bulls bench after the majority of his five three-pointers, then mimicking Robinsons trademark airplane post-basket celebration.

I just felt like I can do what I want. Ive got my swagger now. I can clown around, dance, do what I want. I might even end up changing my hair back again, Jennings quipped.

But I think just overall, just the confidence the team has. Everybodys playing with confidence, guys are just playing free and were not really thinking. Were just hooping.

Boylan also displayed a sense of humor, telling reporters before the game that he wouldnt mention the Bucks 27-point November comeback win in Chicago.

I think its just one of those odd nights in the NBA. I dont think you want to ever bring up the fact that you were down 27 points midway through the third quarter, to your team, against the team youre about to go out and play against, he joked. I think well leave that one out here in the hallway.

But aside from being a positive influence, the coach also plans to impart valuable lessons that could benefit the Bucks, an odd collection of long, athletic big men that gets the bulk of its scoring from the undersized, explosive backcourt of Jennings and Monta Ellis.

I said to the guys after the game, We need to become a team and you do that through sacrifice. I dont play Luc Mbah a Moute for most of the second half, but yet, with a couple of minutes to go, I need a defensive guy out there, I put him out there, he gets the job done. Sam Dalembert hasnt played for weeks and weeks. Sam got in therenot that he really had a great gamebut he got out there, he was hustling, he was playing hard and thats what a team does. It was a good step forward for us, he said afterwards.

Its Chicago, its a division rival, a team thats up ahead of us, so its a huge game and it gives us a 2-1 series edge right now. its nice when you can play some of these Eastern Conference teams that you can feel like youre battling. We beat Boston, 3-1, in the series; were done for the season, so thats a nice win to have in your pocket, in case, towards the end of the season, a playoff situation arises, so those things are important.

Just as important as being prepared the second time around.

All of our 2018 NBA Draft content in one convenient place

dayton.png
USA TODAY

All of our 2018 NBA Draft content in one convenient place

The NBA Draft is upon us. And we've got all of our NBA Draft content in one place for you. How convenient.

Twitter Handles to Follow

@NBCSBulls | @vgoodwill | @MarkSchanowski | @KendallG13 | @Will_Perdue32 | @markstrot

Insider Vincent Goodwill reports

Bulls' interest in Michael Porter Jr. promises to make draft night an eventful one—again

With Trae Young's team workout looming, his trainer clears air on any Bulls rift: 'That's totally false'

Substance, best fit, development, best pick? Observations from the workouts of Wendell Carter Jr. and Mikal Bridges 

Bulls high on Trae Young, Collin Sexton, unafraid to take point guard in draft

Best player or need? Texas' Mohamed Bamba could represent best fit next to Lauri Markkanen 

Trae Young confident in his elite abilities, aware of his detractors: 'My job is to change the narrative' (by Mark Strotman)

Making The Case For Series/Top 10 Scouting Reports

Making The Case For Deandre Ayton

Making The Case For Luka Doncic

Making The Case For Marvin Bagley

Making The Case For Mo Bamba

Making The Case For Michael Porter Jr.

Making The Case For Jaren Jackson Jr.

Making The Case For Trae Young

Making The Case For Wendell Carter Jr.

Making The Case For Mikal Bridges

Making The Case For Collin Sexton

Content from the NBA Draft Combine

Michael Porter Jr: 'I'm the best player in this draft'

Versatility is Wendell Carter Jr's calling card

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

After historical season at Oklahoma, Trae Young ready to make immediate impact in NBA

Wichita State's Landry Shamet could give Bulls backcourt versatility they desperately need

Draft news

Need or best player available? John Paxson says Bulls will lean toward latter

Trae Young says he'll only be working out for four teams...and one is the Bulls

John Paxson says Bulls happy with PG depth, hints at looking elsewhere in NBA Draft

NBA Draft-related Podcasts

2018 NBA Draft primer

Mark Schanowski's NBA Buzz

NBA Buzz: Draft night is almost here 

NBA Buzz: Draft intrigue heating up 

NBA Buzz: Pre-draft misinformation season

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

NBA Mock Draft: Who will Bulls select at No. 7?

NBA Draft Tracker: Center Mitchell Robinson

Carlos Boozer says Nate Robinson was one of his favorite teammate because 'he would bring snacks to every flight'

Carlos Boozer says Nate Robinson was one of his favorite teammate because 'he would bring snacks to every flight'

Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson only played one season together with the Bulls. But oh, what a memorable campaign it was.

And it produced a friendship that still lasts to this day. Cupcakes and snacks will do just that.

Boozer retold a story to NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday of Robinson and his daughter, Navyi, baking cupcakes for Bulls players on road trips.

"We had so much fun. Me and Nate hit it off right away," Boozer said. "We're both very animated, we're both very loud, we talk a lot, we're great teammates. We love playing passionately, we compete.

"Nate is one of the best teammates I ever had. I played my whole life, I've been playing a long time and he's the only teammate that would bring snacks to every flight. And we'd travel on the road, he would bake us cupcakes for every road game. I never had that before.

"Him and his daughter, Navyi, would bake the cupcakes before every road game. So every road game we'd get to the plane and Nate would hook us up with cupcakes.

"Just a great teammate. He'd go through a brick wall for you, never complained, practice every day, play every day, ready to come and give it his best."

Boozer and Robinson will face off against each other during the Big3 Tournament, which begins this weekend in Houston. The league will travel to Chicago and the United Center on June 29.

"I'm looking forward to being in Chicago," Boozer said. "We've got a lot of great fans out there. I miss the (United Center), miss that Chicagotime summer weather and looking forward to getting back out there in a couple weeks."

Boozer's Ghost Ballers and Robinson's Tri-State team won't square off against one another until Week 5 in Miami. But it's sure to be a fun matchup for the two friends and snack buddies.

"He's one of my brothers, one of my closest friends," Boozer said. "Nate has been training like an animal and he's gonna use this platform to show everybody how much skills he has, also to get back into the NBA. Nate's a great talent and I'm looking forward to seeing him get down."

Boozer's team includes co-captains Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis, which gives them a pretty solid trio heading into the event. But no teammate, NBA or Big3, can match Nate Rob and his cupcakes.

Check out more on the Big3 right here.