The Chicago Bulls have been among the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season. Despite coming into the year with playoff expectations, the 9-18 Bulls are currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They have played one of the NBA’s easiest schedules so far, so things don’t figure to get much better. This has led to a restless fan base demanding the firing of underperforming head coach Jim Boylen.
But the Bulls have made it perfectly clear so far this season that Boylen isn’t going anywhere. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson reiterated that stance Saturday, saying “we’re committed to Jim,” to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. He added that “there’s no quick fix to this. We’re not thinking of making any changes. Jim is a grinder. He’s going to keep grinding.” On his own future with the Bulls, Paxson said “I’m here. I don’t plan on going anywhere.”
Of course, those two statements are tied together. The current predicament of the New York Knicks is a perfect example of that. The spotlight was on head coach David Fizdale as the losses mounted early in the season, but once Fizdale was fired, attention turned to the man who hired him. Now Steve Mills is on the hot seat, and he no longer has a scapegoat to point to in his own defense.
The Bulls have now missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons. Paxson and general manager Gar Forman won a power struggle with Tom Thibodeau, the most successful coach in franchise history not named Phil Jackson, and have already had to fire his first replacement in Fred Hoiberg. Dumping a second with little progress on the roster wouldn’t exactly look good for the regime that has been in place for quite some time.
There is no indication that ownership is considering a change in the front office, but losing has a way of changing that. For now, it benefits Paxson and Forman to keep Boylen around as a shield. Considering his contract expires at the end of the season anyway, there is little harm in keeping him around until then and starting fresh next season. For Bulls fans anxious for some sort of change, that is likely the best-case scenario.