Jim Boylen, who was promoted to head coach of the Bulls in December 2018 when Chicago fired Fred Hoiberg after a 5-19 start, was fired on Friday. Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls fired Coach Jim Boylen on Friday, the new front office beginning its remake of a team that missed the playoffs again.

The Bulls, who finished 22-43 this season, were one of the eight teams that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World. That meant they wouldn’t make the postseason for the fourth time in five years – a tough stretch for a franchise whose dominance in the 1990s was chronicled in the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.”

The move was hardly a surprise. Only Tim Floyd (.205) had a lower winning percentage than Boylen (.317) in franchise history.

“This was a very difficult decision, but it is time for our franchise to take that next step as we move in a new direction and era of Chicago Bulls basketball,” Karnisovas said in a statement. “Jim is a great human being that cares deeply about this organization and the game of basketball.”

A longtime NBA assistant, Boylen got his first head coaching job in the league in December 2018 when the Bulls fired Fred Hoiberg after a 5-19 start. Boylen led the Bulls to a 17-41 record the rest of the way and a 22-43 mark in this pandemic-interrupted season after getting a contract extension.

Boylen starred in the 1980s at the University of Maine, where he was the Black Bears’ captain as a junior and senior. He averaged 21 points per game as a senior in 1986-87.


The Bulls were 11th in the Eastern Conference before play was stopped in March because of the coronavirus. After the season, Chicago hired Arturas Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations.

John Paxson, the team’s former executive vice president of basketball operations, said in February 2019 that the Bulls “absolutely” planned to retain Boylen after they fired Fred Hoiberg. He said at the time that Boylen was “doing the right things” and “promoting the right message to our players.”

The Bulls made good on that promise, and they entered this season with strong hopes.

“We think we can compete,” Paxson said before the season. “And when you compete at a high level, you have the ability to be a playoff-caliber team. We set that as a goal.”

Paxson’s optimism came with caution. He said he expected a jump from Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter.

“We have some guys who (are) at a time in their careers where they have to step up,” he said. “And that’s Zach. That’s Lauri. That’s Otto. … I think we have people around them, complements to them, that are gonna help this team a lot.”


LaVine averaged 25.5 points but wasn’t an All-Star. Markkanen, a 7-footer from Finland, missed 15 games with a pelvic injury and his scoring and rebounding numbers dropped. Otto Porter missed 51 games with a variety of left foot injuries. The Bulls finished 27th out of 30 teams in scoring.

In a grim reminder of how far the Bulls had fallen, Chicago hosted the All-Star game, yet no Bulls were on the rosters.

Friday’s move was just the latest in a flurry of changes for the team.

Karnisovas was hired out of Denver’s front office in April, with Paxson moving to an advisory role after nearly two decades leading the basketball operation. General manager Gar Forman was fired, and the Bulls hired Philadelphia 76ers executive Marc Eversley – Chicago’s first Black GM – to replace him.

Karnisovas wanted to meet face to face with Boylen and observe practices and games before announcing a decision. The chance to watch him up close was dashed when the Bulls were left out of the Orlando bubble. And now, the search kicks into higher gear.

Toronto lead assistant Adrian Griffin played with Karnisovas at Seton Hall in the early 1990s. He also had two stints playing with the Bulls and worked as an assistant on former coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff from 2010-15.


Kenny Atkinson led the Brooklyn Nets to a playoff appearance in 2019. But he was fired this past March with a 118-190 record over four seasons.

KINGS: Vlade Divac stepped down as general manager and will be replaced on an interim basis by Joe Dumars.

The Kings announced the move a day after they ended their 14th straight season without a playoff berth. That’s the longest active drought in the NBA and one shy of the record.

Divac was hired by the Kings in March 2013 as vice president of basketball operations and franchise operations. He became general manager in August 2015.


PACERS 109, HEAT 92: Doug McDermott scored 23 points and Indiana won a game delayed for several minutes late in the third quarter when Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. was carted off the court.


Jones was attempting to get around a screen when he collided with 6-foot-11 Indiana center Goga Bitadze and fell to the floor. Jones lay on his stomach with his right arm on the back of his head for several minutes before he was fitted for a neck brace and carted off the floor.

Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said the issue was with Jones’ shoulder and neck. Jones was evaluated by doctors on-site and was getting more tests Friday night, including an MRI and CT scan.

Spoelstra urged caution before reacting one way or another until all tests have been completed. But the initial signs, including that Jones had movement and was not reporting numbness in his extremities, were considered positive.

The injury to the NBA’s reigning slam dunk champion came on a day when both teams were trying to stay as healthy as possible for their upcoming first-round playoff matchup.

RAPTORS 117, NUGGETS 109: Stanley Johnson scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half, and Toronto closed out its regular season with a win over Denver.

CLIPPERS 107, THUNDER 103: Terance Mann hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:30 left in overtime and had 25 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles, which won a final seeding game in which both teams rested their stars.

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