By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
There are some heavy discussions in the air for the NBA, but the odds are that the league will be back in some form by the end of this summer.
The league has approved a 22-team bubble season that will include the original that were within striking distance of playoff contention if they were not already playoff bound.
With a late July start expected, and the next month-plus unfolds, more attention will be given to injury reports, Coronavirus testing and practice reports delving into renewed team chemistry with week 1 NBA spreads will have Vegas ready to roll again for the first time in months, and TV viewership should yield eye-opening ratings as playoff contenders begin battling each other through a bizarre, unprecedented schedule.
One team that’s not in the playoff picture is the Chicago Bulls. Now in the midst of a nine-month off-season, the Bulls will be able to officially evaluate the next steps for their franchise, which includes filling out the rest of the front office and head coach positions, following a suitable roster for the next coach in line.
Filling Out the Front Office – The Bulls openly stated their goal was to make the playoffs and have failed to reach the mark. Part of the reason is due to their front office structure. It has been known how out of date the Bulls structure was, often times relying on a couple people to due heavy loads of work that front offices currently have numerous positions for.
With the new tandem the Bulls have hired in Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, the team now has already implemented specific hires like director of player development Pat Connelly and assistant general manager JJ Polk that will aid in the new direction the Bulls office desperately needed. They will need to continue to add new office structure to change the current dysfunctional franchise culture.
Dismissing Boylen – Another reason why the Bulls have failed to make the playoffs is due to the coaching situation. Jim Boylen hasn’t accumulated the best winning record as the franchises lead coach with a 39-84 since taking over for Fred Hoiberg last season.
Aside from the record, although he is noted as a great and respected coach across the league, it is reported that he doesn’t always have the locker room, and it has shown with the regression of the young talent on the court. The new front office leadership is not rushing the decision of whether to let go or retain Boylen, but a few coaching candidates have come to mind that the Bulls can benefit from.
Replacing Boylen – 76ers assistant Ime Udoka has been reported as a lead candidate for the job if Boylen let go, according to Joe Cowley of the Sun-Times. His repour with players has been widely known across the league, not to mention his defensive strategies as well as his relationship with Eversley during their time in Philadelphia.
Another option that comes up former Bull and current Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin who has helped lead a championship team that has remained relevant even after losing its superstar in Kawhi Leonard via free agency last off-season while also maintaining positive player relationships.
Griffin is due for a head coaching position, and it would be ideal for him to have his first head coaching gig with one of his former franchises.
Other coaches that come to my mind are former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson and former Warriors coach and Mark Jackson. Atkinson has a reputation of building young talented teams and making them playoff bound. He helped develop D’Angelo Russell become an All-Star point guard, and brought relevancy to the Nets with making the playoffs last season and this year with their main two superstars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant out of the lineup for most of the year before his unexpected exit.
As far as Jackson is concerned, though he has not coached in a long time the former starting point guard has the ability to coach young teams, having helped develop the Warriors to become a playoff team before current coach Steve Kerr took them on a historic run to five straight Finals. Jackson also has a rapport with numerous top-tier talent, and in a league with a new respected front office and Jackson as your head coach can potentially open up the door to get top-tier talent to explore the idea of joining the legendary franchise.
One of the things the new front office emphasized is the importance of player relationships. Any of these coaches fit the bill with fulfilling that purpose while also developing young talent.
New Talent – Once they solidify the coaching situation and fill out their front office, they have to find a way to develop the current roster talent or use them as bait to bring in other premier talent.
AK has made it known that this year’s talent underperformed, and just off the eye test has shown that players were not improving throughout the course of the season. Aside from Zach LaVine, the ascension of Wendell Carter and signs of promise from Coby White, the rest of the roster is questionable regarding the future of the franchise. The team has whiffed on superstar/all-star talent since the Derrick Rose Bulls era, from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to Carmelo Anthony in their primes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis headline free agent classes in the near future, and some superstars may be on the move via trade if their current situations do not pan out, like DeMar DeRozen in San Antonio.
If the Bulls can get more talent around LaVine or develop the current talent to bare minimum a valuable use next season, the future can be bright at the Madhouse on Madison.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media