Report: Bulls could keep head coach Jim Boylen because firing him would be too expensive

Months ago, NBA fans were watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance” and marveling at the dismantling of the Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls dynasty, which was some believed to be caused by owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s refusal to spend.

History may now be repeating, but with the opposite effect.

Is this why the Bulls are keeping Jim Boylen?

According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, there is “growing thought” that current Bulls head coach Jim Boylen will keep his job due to the financial concerns of the Reinsdorf family.

Boylen, who was promoted to head coach in the middle of last season after the firing of Fred Hoiberg, just wrapped a 22-43 season with the Bulls. His .317 win percentage with the team is surpassed only by Tim Floyd for worst in franchise history, and his tenure has also seen numerous incidents that have brought his decision-making into question.

Boylen’s name was a fixture on coaching hot seat lists throughout the season, and his team did little to reverse the narrative that he won’t be around whenever the team becomes a contender again.

FILE - In this March 10, 2020, file photo, Chicago Bulls coach Jim Boylen cheers on players during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Chicago. Boylen's future is the biggest issue hanging over the Bulls, who were left out when the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a 22-team format to restart the pandemic-interrupted season next month in Orlando. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)
Jim Boylen could reportedly be sticking around. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

Cowley reported that Arturas Karnisovas, the news Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations, received negative feedback on Boylen from key Bulls players after taking over and was poised to let go Boylen and several members of his staff. He even reportedly reached out to Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka and Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin as potential replacements for Boylen.

And then the pandemic shut down the league, and the NBA’s finances were flung into chaos.

Reinsdorf, who also owns the Chicago White Sox, claimed to USA Today that his losses are currently in the nine figures between his two teams. So the thought of firing Boylen, whose $1.6 million salary ranks on the low end for NBA head coaches, to pay another coach while eating whatever money might be left on his multi-year contract might not be so palatable. There’s also the uncertainty of next season, as there’s no telling when fans will be allowed into NBA arenas again.

Boylen is reportedly confident he will keep his job, which makes sense since “Jerry Reinsdorf’s cheapest option” has always been a good position to occupy, especially in a pandemic. That doesn’t mean Bulls fans will be happy, though.

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