Boylen Unconcerned Style Could Turn Off Free Agents

Bulls coach Jim Boylen
Photo credit David Banks/USA Today Sports
(670 The Score) As Bulls coach Jim Boylen continues to lead his team with a more intense and forceful style than his predecessor Fred Hoiberg, he brushed aside the theory that his approach could be a turn-off for high-end free agents and players the organization may look to add in the future.

"If we are looking at free agents that don't want to work for or play for a competitive coach with great experience that is going to push them, then I don't know -- are we maybe targeting the wrong guys?" Boylen responded on the Mully & Haugh Show on Wednesday morning to a question regarding whether he needs to evolve to better relate to the modern player. "We want guys who are going to come in and honor what the Bulls legacy is -- tough defense, competitive people and play the right way. So I have not had any issues with any players. What I've tried to do is push this team to a place it can't take themselves. That's what I've tried to do. We're doing that as we speak. And if a free agent wants to be a part of that, great. I've coached a lot of good players, I've been a part of a lot of great staffs and my relationship with great players has always been very positive. I had a great relationship with Jimmy Butler when he was here and right on down the line -- (Dwyane) Wade, I had a great relationship with him. So I don't think that's an issue. I don't feel in my heart that's an issue for us. What we have to do is target the guys who want to be here, that want to be a Bull, that care about the Bulls and care about our city and the kind of basketball we want to play."

Boylen's point that he's had no issues with Bulls players since taking over on Dec. 3 encounters some scrutiny. On his seventh day on the job, several Bulls considered a boycott of practice before cooler heads prevailed. Boylen and forward Jabari Parker haven't seen eye to eye, with Boylen calling out Parker's effort on the defensive end and practice in previously removing him from the rotation. And Saturday night, guard Zach LaVine appeared to take a veiled shot at Boylen in explaining the difference between the Bulls early in the season and more recently.

Boylen emphasized his style is the starting point of a path to raise the Bulls' level of competitiveness, and he doesn't mind the criticism. The Bulls could have around $40 million in cap space in free agency this summer, though the infant state of their rebuild will be a hurdle in attracting top-tier talent.

"I'm going to be who I am," Boylen said. "I go back to the competitive part. I'm trying to get our guys to understand the competitive piece. We got 'Bulls' across our chest. I want them to be more intense and more committed and more physical and more communicative and take more ownership. I've got guys on this team I think that thrive off this style. I've got guys on this team that aren't used to this style. But what I have had is guys take ownership of their play. When they've played poorly and they've let the team down, they've admitted it and they're trying to get better and move on. And I think that's what a good NBA player does -- he responds to a bad performance. If he has a good performance, hopefully consistency-wise, he can make the next night as good or better. Those are the things we talk about. 

"I've been able to coach a lot of great players, and I've been around a lot of great coaches. The guys I've worked for are intense. The difference is they're in the Hall of Fame or they've won 400 games. I haven't done that. It doesn't mean that my style is wrong. It just means I don't have maybe the street cred that those guys have. But my players have been receptive. I think it is new for them, but it's who I'm going to be. The way that our our ownership and management want the team coached is the way I'm coaching it. It fits my style, and it fits who I am."