Boylen Defends Timeouts, Relationship With LaVine

"I coach to the end of games," Bulls coach Jim Boylen says.

Cody Westerlund
February 23, 2020 - 5:38 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Unapologetic as ever, Bulls coach Jim Boylen on Sunday extensively detailed his use of timeouts late in games that have already been decided, a habit that previously drew eye rolls from outside observers but has now received pushback from his best player as well.

After Boylen called a timeout with the Bulls trailing by 10 with 30.3 seconds left in a 112-104 loss to the Suns on Saturday evening, guard Zach LaVine was caught on camera expressing his frustration about the matter. LaVine and Boylen met postgame Saturday to share some frustrations.

A day later, Boylen downplayed LaVine’s irritation over the timeout drama while defending his own approach.

“We didn’t really go into that,” Boylen said. “It’s not about that. You can video me on a two-on-one when we turn it over and I make an expression. You can video me on a wide-open three we miss and then on the other end they make a contested three and I make an expression. You can do that on every clip and every situation. We were down 10, I called a timeout to coach my team. We were down eight with 40 seconds to go in Charlotte (on Nov. 23) and won. So, it does happen. But I can see where people think it would be unnecessary. That’s OK.

“We’re trying to establish that we’re going to play until the end and we’re going to compete. We’ve had some tremendous comeback wins this year where we’ve kept playing, so I think the guys get that. But I think what we can’t do is not expect people to be frustrated with a losing streak or a home loss. That’s a healthy thing that there’s frustration. It’s a healthy thing that you’ve got competitive people that are upset that we’re hurt and we’re fighting to win games.”

Boylen maintained that he has a strong relationship with LaVine and that their discussion Saturday stemmed from the Bulls’ struggles, as they’ve lost eight straight to drop to 19-38.

“I thought we were frustrated,” Boylen said. “He’s frustrated. I think our team is frustrated. Nobody likes to lose games. We’re competitive people. I coach to the end of games. You guys know that. Could some people judge look at that timeout as unnecessary? Of course they can. You can judge it any way you want. He’s a fighter. We’re going to fight to the end. I’m going to coach our guys to the end. I think there’s a misconception that Zach and I only talk when there’s something good to talk about or something bad to talk about. We talk all the time. I think it’s a healthy, productive relationship.”

Boylen pushed back at the idea that his players are questioning his timeout use, and he added he has the support of his bosses, including Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.

“I talked to John this morning,” Boylen said. “We talk every day. He's on the road right now. And, you know, (my message was) ‘I'm going to coach these guys hard, John.’ (His was), ‘Keep doing what you're doing.’ It's what we have to do. I think — is there an opportunity where or a chance where maybe I'm over competitive in those situations? I think I have to own that.”

So is it almost about defiance at some point?

“That I don't want to lose?” Boylen said. “Yeah. I don't like losing. We had a 17-point lead (Saturday), I thought we played our hearts out — shorthanded — and we battled, got the game back under control. We're up 1 with seven minutes to go, and we didn't play very well the last seven minutes, but yeah I'm hanging onto that.”

Boylen understands the criticism will keep being lobbed his way given the Bulls’ struggles.

 “I don’t worry about if it’s fair or not,” Boylen said. “I’ve got a job to do. I don’t listen to the cheers and I don’t listen to the boos and I don’t listen to the negativity. I don’t do it. I’ve got a job to do, and I’m going to keep doing it.”

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.