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In the end, it seemed as though the only thing former Bulls general manager and vice president of whatever John Paxson cared about was saving money for the chairman (Jerry Reinsdorf) and his partners.
He made should-have-been-forever interim (or assistant) Jim Boylen the full-time head coach despite the fact that then-interim head coach Boylen (after Fred Hoiberg was fired in December of 2018) had showed immediately that he wasn't up to the job. In his first interim weekend, the coach held a ridiculously long practice featuring a clearly excessive amount of sprints and other basic conditioning and then executed an infamous five-for-five substitution in a game.
Do people remember when Tim Floyd did that early in his Bulls head-coaching career? Fortunately for Floyd, Charles Oakley was still in his second go-round with the Bulls at that point and he told the new head coach to never do that again in the NBA (which he did not). Oakley pointed out that deploying that sort of embarrassing tactic would potentially be injurious in the Association, which even way back then almost a quarter of a century ago (1998) was well on its way to becoming the ultimate players' league.
When Boylen was interim head coach, he worked for his assistant coach salary. When the Bulls made him the full-time coach in 2018, they gave him a small, three-year deal that put him in the bottom tier of coaches. During both tenures, Boylen offered up examples of why he never should have been an NBA head coach virtually every week. One of his favorite moves was to call timeouts in the final minutes of games in which the Bulls were being blown out to apparently go over strategy that might help the team suffer a slightly less embarrassing final result on the scoreboard. Not good. On a couple occasions opposing head coaches called Boylen out on that move, making it clear they had little to no respect for him.
It was clear in late 2018 that Paxson, who had a year prior sold a second-round draft pick to the Golden State Warriors and then offered up a truly bad-ridiculous rationale for doing so, had completely lost his way.
It is already crystal clear this season (the Bulls improved to 6-8 with a 125-120 win over the Rockets at home Monday night) that Billy Donovan (hired by Paxson's successor Arturas Karnisovas) is such a better a coach than Jim Boylen it is embarrassing (to previous management). All Bulls fans had warm feelings for Paxson at the end of his playing career and most of us were still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt well into his executive career. But the stupidity of some of his draft decisions and coaching hires wore us down and after he stuck with cheapest option Boylen because he knew it would make Reinsdorf happy, we started to hate him. Paxson, that is.
When Paxson sold the pick to the Warriors for a few million, he claimed the Bulls had a list of prospects who they were especially excited to draft early in that second round and that all of those picks were off the board when the Bulls' pick arrived. It didn't seem to occur to him that maybe the dynastic Warriors had a better list. Sure enough, later in the ensuing season the Warriors came to Chicago to embarrass the Bulls with the draft pick in question, Josh Bell, playing a prominent role.
Thankfully chairman-in-waiting Michael Reinsdorf (Jerry's son) apparently staged an intervention after last year's terrible regular season was ended by the pandemic and as a result the whole crew - Paxson, Gar Forman and Boylen - were fired. Michael was successful enough with his subsequent hires (conducting an ultra-professional job search involving candidates from all over the place for all three positions - imagine that!) that we should probably think of him as the new man in charge of the partnership that owns the Bulls. Then again, something tells us Jerry still has veto power over everything.
The Bulls hired the best executive they could find in Karnisovas as opposed to pulling a Jerry Reinsdorf and hiring the former Bulls player who Reinsdorf felt had been nicest to him during his playing career (that was how they chose Paxson over fellow former Bull BJ Armstrong at the beginning of all this).
The White Sox are clearly the only team in town at this point that is in championship contention. The Bulls aren't going to win the NBA title in the coming summer, but believe me when I tell you they are moving in the right direction just about as quickly as is humanly possible. Hallelujah.
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