Want to see more NBA articles like this one? See more on our website like NBA rankings, matchups, and articles like this one to find more information on the current and next NBA season. While NBA playoffs are thriving on the ability to play in their bubble in Orlando, FL, most of the NBA is beginning the restructure of their teams for next season. One team, in particular, the Chicago Bulls, is one of four teams in the NBA actively looking for a new coach to lead their young core starters. In this article, I will review the complete remodeling of the Bulls front office and the possibilities for the new coaching hires.
General manager Gar Forman was fired from his position of general manager in April, as well as the demotion of his right-hand man, John Paxson, down to senior advisor of basketball operations. The duo is known as “GarPax” has been around for almost eighteen years when John Paxson started as general manager in 2003. In 2009, Gar Forman took over his position but kept Paxson around as vice president of basketball operations. Together they handled the front office of the Bulls since last April and made some good and bad moves for the team. Some of the good moves they made together were mostly in the draft by taking players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler. But, some of their bad days on draft night were trading away players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Gary Harris, and Josef Nurkic. Not to mention they traded away future picks for undeserving players like Doug McDermott. They have also given a healthy chunk of the Bulls’ cap space in the past to players like Dwayne Wade (at the end of his career) and Otto Porter Jr., who missed 51 games last year for the Bulls. Finally, their biggest front office move before the end of their stint lead us to where the Bulls are today: the Jimmy Butler trade. The Bulls in 2017 sent All-star player Jimmy Butler and a first-round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and their first-round draft pick, which ended up being Lauri Markannen.
Jim Boylen was fired from the Chicago Bulls just after two years with a total record of 39-84 with the Bulls. Bulls fans had the same feeling as Boylen as they did with GarPax: bad. Here are some key stats over the past two years that the Bulls performed as a team. They were 27th in points per game over the last two seasons, 25th in shooting percentage, 23rd in three-point percentage, 24th in two-point percentage, 25th in field goals made per game, and 15th in field goals attempted. They are also a bottom five free-throw shooting team in free throw percentage and free throws taken. Boylen’s philosophy coming into the Bulls was to focus on transition offense and open three-point shots. He emphasized the importance of having an open three-pointer as opposed to a contested middle-range shot on the floor. Last season the Bulls were 11th in three-point field goal attempts, 14th in three-point field goals made, and 7th in fast-break points per game. Boylen also had a good feel for the defensive side to the Bulls by making that a great strength of theirs too. Last year the Bulls were ranked 12th in defensive efficiency, 13th in opponents points per game, and had great perimeter defense ranking 3rd in the league in opponent three-point field goals made. So, what was the problem? He did what he said he would, right? True. He improved the areas that he said he would. But, the areas he wanted to improve did not align well with the Bulls. In fact, last season star power forward Lauri Markannen had the statistically worst year of his three-year career with the Bulls. His minutes were on and off, his confidence was low, and Boylen wanted him to focus on running the transition offense and defense, his two worst strengths. Not to mention, Lauri and Lavine both played better when they were not on the floor together, making their starting offense very inefficient. To continue with that, Boylen had almost a worse relationship with the team than the fans of Chicago did with him. Fans visibly saw the frustrations between Lavine, Markannen, and Boylen in games. Boylen wanted open and quality shots from Lavine, while Lavine is known for driving in and getting to the foul line and being the most heavily guarded player for the Bulls when he is on the floor. Furthermore, Boylen was known for his poor coaching abilities in-game. For example, he was notorious for late-game timeouts when the Bulls had no chance of coming back in the game, and his weird timed substitutions and limited minutes for Markannen. Jim Boylen was an overall poor coach for the Chicago Bulls, but the Bulls young core and bench have the opportunity to be saved by their new front office and soon to be a new head coach.
After the Chicago Bulls cleared out GarPax from their front office, they brought in entirely new staff to the Chicago Bulls’ front office. Here are the new hires for the Chicago Bulls’ front office:
Arturas Karnisovas- Vice President of Basketball Operations
Arturas Karnisovas was formerly the general manager of the Denver Nuggets since 2013. He was a big part of building the very deep team the Denver Nuggets currently have as the three seed in the west of the NBA playoffs. He helped with the signing of Paul Millsap and the drafting of stars like Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets had arguably one of the better drafts last season by taking Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol. Arturas will be the vice president of basketball operations for the Chicago Bulls and Bulls fans should be excited about that.
Marc Eversley- General Manager
Marc Eversley is coming off his senior ranking position with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he had much success in the drafting of Ben Simmons with the first overall pick, and the recruitment of talent for their deep valued team. He was a big help in bringing in guys like J.J Redick, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris to the stacked 76ers. He also worked with the Toronto Raptors, where he helped in the decision to draft Demar Derozan. Eversley is a great addition to the front office because of his experience and ability to bring in guys from free agency.
Pat Connelly- Vice President of Player Personnel
Pat Connelly served with player personnel alongside Arturas Karnisvoas on the Denver Nuggets and has worked as a general manager for the Phoenix Suns. Connelly worked alongside Arturas with the Nuggets’ current stars of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. He also worked as the GM for the Phoenix Suns and brought in players like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton to a solid Suns’ team. His eye for talent will be a great addition to the Bulls front office.
J.J Polk- Assistant General Manager
J.J Polk comes from serving ten years with the New Orleans Pelicans as a general manager. His strengths are mostly related to contract negotiation and salary cap strategy, but the young and talented New Orleans team is a spectacle of management that gives him a loaded resume. Polk will be a large asset working with contracts, a large weakness of the Chicago Bulls, beside Eversley in the front office.
Kenny Atkinson was a significant part in turning around the Brooklyn Nets organization and their recent success in the past two years. The Nets in my opinion are NBA championship contenders next year, after having lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Toronto Raptors. The Nets played very well without having Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or Deandre Jordan, all who will be starters next year for them. His resigning was a mutual agreement, and there is speculation that Irving and Durant may have pushed him out.
Ime Udoka is a big front-runner for the position of the Bulls’ head coaching position. At the beginning of his coaching career, he worked under one of the best coaches in history, Gregg Popovich. He worked with the San Antonio Spurs for seven years before becoming the assistant coach to the 76ers, who were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round after losing Ben Simmons to injury. Ime has worked with Eversley while on the Toronto Raptors, so he has a connection to the team already. He helped create a great defense for the 76ers, as they were ranked 8th in the NBA this past season. The fact that he has a great understanding of defense and has worked with one of the best offensive systems in the NBA gives him great upside to be the next head coach for the Chicago Bulls.
Wes Unseld Jr.
Wes Unseld has been an assistant coach for the Wizards, Warriors, Magic, and most recently the Nuggets. Clearly, he already has a relationship with Arturas Kornisovas and Pat Connelly from working with the Nuggets, giving him a good chance to be brought in. He helped develop the Nuggets defense and has great work with player development. Those two things are big necessities for the Chicago Bulls, which makes him my favorite to be selected. He is also known for his great personality and building relationships with the team; something that Boylen struggled with a lot during his time. Wes is a great candidate for the head coaching position because he fills a lot of the categories that the Bulls need help with at the moment.
Jamahl Mosely has the common theme of working for the Denver Nuggets from 2005-2010 in player development and as an assistant coach. Currently, he is an assistant to the Dallas Mavericks, who were also eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs. He has specialized in defensive strategy and player development, having a great experience by developing Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. He also fills a lot of weaknesses that the Bulls are struggling with, making him a top candidate for the coaching position.
Stephen Silas has the most coaching experience out of any of the candidates for the Bulls coaching position. He has been an assistant coach since 2000, and his best focus has been on developing perimeter players. He helped develop top perimeter player Stephen Curry with his time on the Warriors. He has coached for six different teams with his current one being the Dallas Mavericks. He lead the Charlotte Hornets to the franchise’s second-highest number of single-season wins for them before leaving. His experience with building perimeter shooters is a dire need for the Bulls who have been a below-average three-point shooting team in the past two years.
The Bulls made a crucial move to their future by clearing out the front office. The regime of GarPax has only lead the Bulls to see and Eastern Conference finals in one year and multiple first and second-round exits. The Bulls have stacked their front office with many basketball minds that have the experience, eyes for recruiting, and creativity. Their decision to fire Jim Boylen bodes very well for the team, who did not enjoy his coaching style, and the opportunity to completely rebuild with a new head coach. They have a number of well-rounded candidates with specialties in the areas they need help with. Luckily, the Bulls have a young starting core to work with and a #4 draft pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Look for the Bulls to be creative in the offseason with their picks and free-agent signings.