The Chicago Bulls were viewed as a potential playoff team heading into the 2019-20 NBA season, but through 16 games, the team has struggled to get off the ground. Currently, Chicago sits at 5-11 and is on the outside of the postseason picture looking in at this very early point in the year.
The team’s latest loss came on Friday, when the Bulls played host to the Miami Heat and fell, 116-108. Chicago found themselves in an early hole — Miami opened the game on a 15-0 run — and were just not able to pull themselves out of it by the time the clock hit zero.
After the game, Bulls coach Jim Boylen discussed taking Zach LaVine off the floor early in the first quarter, citing some “defensive mistakes” made by the high-scoring guard.
“I thought, ‘He needs a break,’” Boylen said, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “I thought he needed to come in and think about it. I felt there were some defensive mistakes that didn’t need to be made. I thought he needed to come over and think about it for a minute.”
Boylen went onto say that LaVine and Lauri Markkanen “got to play better for us to become what we can become,” and with LaVine specifically, he went on to say, “I didn’t want him in the game anymore. I think he needed to come over and think about it.” LaVine would go on to play 29 minutes and score a team-high 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting.
While Boylen is known for being one of the more old school coaches in the league, this kind of tough love didn’t sit particularly well with LaVine. He sat down with Goodwill after the game and lamented on the relationship he has with his coach, saying that is unsure about his coach’s trust in him.
“I feel I earned that trust, but I guess he feels differently,” LaVine said. “Other players around the league — and everybody’s situation isn’t the same — I feel other players around the league have that trust. I guess we haven’t got there.”
It’s impossible to know for sure how Boylen feels about LaVine, but it’s never good when this is a player’s perception of how his coach views him. LaVine went onto say that he’s still trying to trust his coach, even if it’s not easy.
“I’m trying my best, I’ll say that,” LaVine said. “I’m playing my minutes and trying to do the best I can do. It’s tough, especially when you’re in a rut. If he doesn’t trust me, it’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t trust you.”
The Bulls will next take the court on Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets. A close eye will, assuredly, be on LaVine and Boylen, and if Chicago wants to end up making the postseason, it’d be wise for those two to get on the same page as soon as possible.