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Rumor: Jim Boylen has been effectively coaching Bulls all season

Jim Boylen, Zach Lavine

More details have emerged about the circumstances that led to the recent firing of Chicago Bulls former head coach Fred Hoiberg.

In his lengthy writeup for The Athletic, Darnell Mayberry discussed in detail how it was allegedly associate head coach Jim Boylen (who was promoted to head coach following the departure of Hoiberg) who had effectively played the role of the team’s head honcho throughout the season, even though the team is denying that.

One person with knowledge of the Bulls’ planning and preparation said Boylen has really been coaching the team all season. A team source, however, refuted that notion and said Hoiberg coached his desired portions and delegated other aspects to Boylen.

But Boylen, the team source said, always was the bad cop, a rarity among assistants in the NBA. It was Boylen’s voice that boomed when a player botched a practice drill. The players respected Boylen’s ire and, as a result, it was his personality they responded to.

This gives the situation a whole different perspective. The basketball world was somewhat taken aback by the firing of Hoiberg, who appeared to have done little to deserve such a doomed fate. The Bulls were never expected to be competitive this season, so why was Hoiberg being fired for doing exactly what was expected of him?

As it turns out, the 46-year-old coach had already lost the locker room. As described by Mayberry, Boylen had already overtaken Hoiberg in the pecking order and had the ear of each player on the team.

This certainly also explains why the Bulls’ front office was so quick to find Hoiberg’s replacement in Boylen. It was actually already in practice, and firing Hoiberg turned out to be a mere formality.