Don’t get me wrong. I’m not wishing Jim Boylen anything bad here. But with the recent front office movement in Chicago, there is a good chance that the Bulls will be in search of a new head coach before the 2020-21 season starts.
The Bulls just fired GM Gar Foreman and also re-assigned Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson to an advisor role. These moves ended the “GarPax” era which has submerged Chicago to the bottom of the NBA in recent years.
After Derrick Rose’s MVP season and the Bulls’ 62 win season in 2011 where Foreman was named as NBA Executive of the Year, things went downhill for this duo. Rose suffered multiple injuries and they moved on from him. Jimmy Butler evolved as a star but eventually got traded after feuding with head coach Fred Hoiberg.
Since Butler’s departure, the Bulls have been a subpar team and they have neither gotten better from the draft nor have signed a top-notch free agent to get the team back on track again. The Bulls hired Jim Boylen as head coach in 2018 and he went 17-41 during the 2018-19 season. Chicago was 22-43 this season when the season was suspended.
Here are the top five choices to replace Boylan if the Bulls are going to fire him:
1. Dave Joerger
Dave Joerger has been jobless since he was fired by Sacramento Kings fired last year. But his departure in Sacramento was questionable as his last season with the Kings yielded a respectable 39-43 record in a tough Western Conference. Sure, he had three losing seasons in Sacramento and he failed to lead the Kings to the playoffs but his overall record of 245-247 is still appealing.
Before coaching in Sacramento, Joerger led the Memphis Grizzlies to the playoffs in three consecutive seasons including two seasons where Memphis won at least 50 games. The issue with Joerger in Sacramento could have been his disagreement with GM Vlade Divac in the team’s choice for the 2nd overall pick of the 2018 Draft. Divac wanted Marvin Bagley (whom they eventually picked) while Joerger was batting for Luka Doncic.
Joerger is known to develop the identities of young teams which he did in Memphis and Sacramento. He also has a very good eye for talent, and his choice of Doncic was just one of the examples of that.
On the other side, he is a very vocal person which led to his feuds with Divac and Bagley. He is also said to be hard-headed behind closed doors which is an attitude the Bulls can’t afford right now.
2. Tom Thibodeautt
Like Dave Joerger, Tom Thibodeau has been out of work since he was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves in January 2019. Thibs was President of Basketball Operations and head coach of the Wolves and he amassed a record of 97-107 win the Timberwolves, including a 19-21 mark when he was fired in the middle of the 2018-19 season.
Thibodeau lobbied for the acquisition of Jimmy Butler in Minnesota. Butler was Thibs main man when he was head coach of the Chicago Bulls. But the longer Butler stayed in Minnesota, he got in conflict with the team’s young duo of Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler later requested to be traded and Thibs was subsequently fired.
Despite what happened in Minnesota, Thibodeau has an excellent resume and his best work happened in the Windy City. Thibs has an overall record of 255-139 during the regular season and a 23-28 playoff record. During the 2010-11 season, he led the Bulls to the best record in the NBA and he was named as 2011 NBA Coach of the Year. He had four 50-win seasons in Chicago and never won fewer than 45 games with the Bulls. With Paxson and Foreman gone, Thibs may accept an invitation to coach the Bulls.
3. David Blatt
David Blatt is one of the most successful American head coaches in the European scene. He was named as Israeli Super League Coach of the Year four times, Russian Super League Coach of the Year once, and Euroleague Coach of the Year one time. He coached for two seasons in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers and returned to Europe when he was fired in the NBA.
The Cavs fired Blatt even though he went 83-40 in more than one season as Cleveland’s head coach. This included a trip to the NBA Finals in 2015 and an Eastern conference-best 30-11 record when he was fired. His removal from Cleveland paved the way for Tyronn Lue to become the head coach.
Everyone knows that Lue is LeBron James’ favorite coach so that could be the reason why Blatt was removed from his position.
Blatt retired from coaching in 2019 and has since been working for the New York Knicks as a consultant. But he is only 60-years old and has been with the NBA since last year. If the Bulls reach out to him, there is a chance that he will accept the offer because coaching is in his blood and it will be a good chance for him to prove himself to the NBA all over again. He has the resume and the experience to get the Bulls back on track.
4. Adrian Griffin
Adrian Griffin makes sense to replace Jim Boylen as the Chicago Bulls’ head coach for many reasons. First is that Griffin and newly minted Bulls GM Arturas Karnisovas played together in the NCAA for the Seton Hall Pirates from 1992-94. Aside from that, he was an assistant coach with the Bulls for five seasons under Tom Thibodeau and knows the organization pretty well.
Griffin has been one of the assistant coaches in the league who is most likely to become a head coach. Not only does he have extensive coaching experience, albeit as an assistant, he is also well-liked and highly respected by players around the league including Jimmy Butler. Butler isn’t with the Bulls anymore but the fact that a character likes him respects Griffin says a lot about the assistant coach.
Griffin has been a lead assistant to the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Toronto Raptors. The teams that Griffin has coached have ranked in the Top 5 in Defensive Rating. Last season, he won his first NBA championship as one of Nick Nurse’s assistants with the Toronto Raptors.
5. Mike Brown
Mike Brown was a former draft pick of the Chicago Bulls and he has tons of experience coaching in the Central division as he was a long-time head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers whom he helped advance to the NBA Finals in 2007. He is currently employed as an associate head coach for the Golden State Warriors.
He led the Cavs to the best record in the NBA with 66 wins in 2009 and was named as NBA Coach of the Year that season.
Cleveland won 61 games the year after but after losing in the second round of the playoffs, Brown was fired. He coached the Lakers and went back to the Cavs before his current position with the Warriors. Brown has a record of 347-216 as an NBA head coach.
Brown was known as a hot-head during his head coaching days but while coaching alongside Steve Kerr, he’s evolved into a cool guy who led the Warriors to an 11-0 playoff record in 2011 while Kerr was out. Sure, you could say that the Dubs had great players and had a system in place but for Brown to put it all together was an achievement for the veteran bench tactician.