Bulls fire coach Jim Boylen, seek 'evolution in leadership'

The Chicago Bulls announced Friday morning that Jim Boylen will no longer be the team’s coach.

Boylen was promoted to head coach in the middle of the 2018-19 season when Fred Hoiberg was fired. Boylen has a career record of 39-84 (.317), ranking second worst in franchise history to Tim Floyd (.205) for coaches with a minimum of 100 games.

Bulls: Evolution in leadership necessary

Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement:

“After doing a comprehensive evaluation and giving the process the time it deserved, I ultimately decided that a fresh approach and evolution in leadership was necessary. This was a very difficult decision, but it is time for our franchise to take that next step as we move in a new direction and era of Chicago Bulls basketball. Jim is a great human being that cares deeply about this organization and the game of basketball. I want to thank him for his professionalism and commitment to the franchise.”

Karnisovas, who was hired in April, said a formal coaching search will begin immediately.

Bulls seeking first postseason spot since 2015

The Bulls finished the 2019-20 season at 22-43 and were not invited to the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, to complete the season. The final games of the resumed regular season are Friday with the postseason to follow.

The Bulls are still seeking their first playoff appearance since 2015. Boylen joined Chicago after that berth as an associate head coach for the 2015-16 season. He officially moved up to head coach on Dec. 3, 2018.

“No one could question Jim's passion for our team and our organization,” Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf said in a statement. “We sincerely appreciate his tireless efforts and contributions during his time with the Bulls, and we wish him and his family the very best.”

Boylen has been on the hot seat

Boylen has been on the hot seat for months while players gave negative feedback to the front office about the coach. Several “key players” reportedly “ripped” Boylen, and he’s had repeated clashes with star Zach LaVine. Karnisovas even reportedly reached out to several coaches about the Bulls job.

But last week, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported there was “growing thought” the Bulls would keep Boylen on staff for financial reasons after the pandemic shut down sports. And Boylen was reportedly confident he would keep his position.

Jerry Reinsdorf told USA Today that his losses were in the nine figures between the Bulls and the Chicago White Sox, which he also owns. There is also concern over losses for next season, especially if fans can’t attend games. Boylen was given an extension in 2019 that reportedly paid him $1.6 million, $1 million of which was guaranteed, for the past season. It’s one of the lower salaries in the league.

It seems the front office came to the conclusion it was worth the money to cut Boylen loose and look elsewhere.

Jim Boylen in a suit and tie with distressed face.
The Chicago Bulls relieved Jim Boylen of his coaching duties. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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