NBA rumors: Bulls players eyed boycott of coach Jim Boylen's practice


The Sacramento Kings know dysfunction when they see it, particularly after years of losing basketball and oddly timed personnel changes.

They’ll see it again Monday night, but this time, it will be from the 6-21 Chicago Bulls, their opponents, who are mired in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Jim Boylen, the new Bulls coach in his first week after Fred Hoiberg’s firing, evidently isn’t too popular with his players. After coaching the Bulls through an embarrassing 56-point home loss to the Celtics on Saturday, he promised another grueling practice Sunday.

That sparked talk of something much more common in 18th-century navies than in the 21st-century NBA:


Take it away, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic ...

That grueling practice never took place Sunday because the Bulls players discussed a boycott of practice, multiple sources told The Athletic. Veteran players spent Saturday night trying to talk Boylen out of a Sunday session, sources said, and when their pleas were rejected, they began bouncing around other ideas in a team-wide group text.

The texts started Saturday night and carried into Sunday morning. One idea that had significant support, according to sources, was the players simply not showing up to the Advocate Center on Sunday. A preliminary plan was to gather at one player’s house and wait for the phones to begin buzzing. That plan fizzled because Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez spoke up, voicing their concerns about the unprofessionalism of that potential act of rebellion, as well as the impact such a stance could have on the roster’s younger, less established players, sources said.

Another idea discussed centered on players walking into the practice facility Sunday morning as a unified group before turning and immediately walking out.

In the end, players reported to work and rather than practice on the court or review Saturday night’s game in the film room, they held two meetings — one with players airing their grievances among themselves, followed by one with coaches entering the room to do the same with players.

The meetings began around noon. Just before 2 p.m., they were done.

What sounds done is Bulls players’ patience with Boylen, a former San Antonio Spurs assistant whom Mayberry noted cites Gregg Popovich’s tactics yet doesn’t have the legendary coach’s credibility. It’s Boylen’s first week on the job, so that’s no surprise.

There’s much more to this story, and we won’t recite every gritty detail here, but the Kings can take solace in the fact they won’t be the team dealing with coaching whispers and team-wide drama in this game.

You honestly couldn’t say that a few weeks ago, as rumors about Kings coach Dave Joerger’s future swirled. Winning is the best deodorant, though, and the 13-12 Kings should be smelling a victory over a down-in-the-dumps foe in Chicago.

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