Bulls Rumors: Latest on Chicago’s Finalists to Replace Jim Boylen as Head Coach

Bulls Rumors: Latest on Chicago’s Finalists to Replace Jim Boylen as Head Coach

FILE - In this Feb. 29, 2020, file photo, Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen prepares for a team timeout during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, in New York. The Chicago Bulls fired coach Jim Boylen on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, as the new front office begins its remake of a team that missed the playoffs again. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

After the Chicago Bulls fired head coach Jim Boylen last month, the front office has narrowed down its candidates for his replacement. 

Among the finalists are Denver Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. 

Boylen was let go by the Bulls in August after Chicago finished the season with a 22-43 record. In his two seasons in Chicago, Boylen went 39-84.

Unseld, the son of Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, left Washington in 2011 after seven seasons as an assistant coach to join the Golden State Warriors, and moved on to Orlando before joining the Nuggets in 2015. Working under Michael Malone, he has assisted in a transformation that has the Nuggets, who had 33 wins in 2015-16, going up against the Lakers for the Western Conference title.

After seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Udoka came to the Sixers this season, where he was responsible for strategy involving “eight or nine” opponents in addition to the team’s defense, per NBC Sports. Charania reported in August that Udoka was also a finalist for the Brooklyn Nets coaching job now held by Steve Nash.

Ham has assisted Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, the 2018-19 NBA Coach of the Year, since he took his first head coaching job in Atlanta in the 2013-14 season. Under their tenure, the Bucks have posted back-to-back division titles with 56 wins in 2019-20 and 60 in 2018-19.

Atkinson, who coached the Nets, is the only one of the reported finalists who actually has head coaching experience, with the 53-year-old coming off four seasons leading the Nets. He posted a 118-190 record, but the Nets saw gradual improvement, finishing with a .512 winning percentage in 2018-19, their highest since the 2013-14 season. It was enough to entice Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to join the team in free agency. 

Charania reported that the Bulls will hold final interviews for the position soon.

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