Few teams have undergone as many changes this offseason as the Chicago Bulls. Longtime general manager Gar Forman was fired, John Paxson was reassigned to a new role as an advisor in the front office and head coach Jim Boylen was let go after a short tenure fraught with controversy.
Since then, Arturas Karnisovas has been hired as the new vice president of basketball operations and Marc Eversley was brought in as the new general manager. To this point, however, they have not filled their head-coaching vacancy. What they have done is held a number of interviews, and are about to start the final stage of that process, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Bulls are narrowing to finalists for their head coaching job and expect to conduct final interviews soon, sources said. Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Philadelphia assistant Ime Udoka, Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham and former Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson are among the coaches who have had strong interviews so far.
This is the first big test for the Bulls' new front office, and there is immense pressure on them to get this decision right after the Boylen disaster. With all of the young talent the Bulls have on the roster, and another top-five pick on the way, they can't afford to waste another few years with a bad coach.
Considering Boylen's hard-nosed style -- which included antics such as installing a time card station for players to punch in and out of work -- didn't go over so well in the locker room, the logical move would be for the Bulls to hire a more player-friendly coach. And with all of their youth, one with a player development background makes sense as well.
Karnisovas knows Unseld well from their time together in Denver, and the Nuggets assistant has received high praise from Mike Malone, who said he "should be a head coach." Udoka, who has spent time learning under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, and most recently Brett Brown in Philadelphia, has been a recurring figure in coaching searches around the league in the past few years. Ham has plenty of experience, both on the court and off, and is currently the top assistant under Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee. Atkinson, meanwhile, is currently without a job after being let go by the Nets, though that was more about what Brooklyn's star players wanted than his performance.
The Bulls will not want to rush a decision this important, but they do have to get moving soon. For one, there are a number of head- coaching vacancies around the league, and other teams are interested in the same candidates they're after. Plus, with the draft less than two months away, and free agency to follow soon after, Chicago needs to have a coach in place well before then to start preparations.