Brooklyn Nets: 3 things to watch against terri-Bulls

Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

2. Natives are restless as Bulls flounder

The Chicago Bulls, after finally committing to a rebuild before the 2017-18 season, are nowhere close to being ready to compete on a regular basis and the front office has made some moves that have left many in the Windy City scratching their collective heads.

The Bulls fired head coach Fred Hoiberg in early December after a 5-19 start. It was a curious call to penalize a coach for losing when the roster was not constructed in such a way that a lot of winning was possible.

Rather than name an interim coach and conduct a thorough search in the offseason, the Bulls brain trust turned the reins immediately over to Jim Boylen, who had been Hoiberg’s top assistant since shortly after Hoiberg was hired in 2015.

The Bulls are not appreciably better under Boylen at 6-20 and are 1-13 in their last 14 games.

This is the first NBA head-coaching opportunity for the 53-year-old Boylen, who has spent parts of 21 years as an assistant in the NBA to go with seven seasons as an assistant at Michigan State University in the collegiate ranks.

He was also head coach at the University of Utah from 2007-11 and was 69-60 in four seasons with one NCAA tournament appearance.

Boylen has come under fire after rookie forward Chandler Hutchison played 41 minutes in a loss Friday to the LA Clippers — two days after fracturing a toe on his right foot in a loss Wednesday to the Atlanta Hawks.

Boylen praised Hutchison for his toughness in playing through the injury, but the 2018 first-round pick will now be out at least three weeks. That’s not an ideal scenario for a young, rebuilding team looking to evaluate what pieces are keepers for the long haul.

Boylen’s tough practice regimen nearly sparked a mutiny by the team after he took over the head coaching reins and it does lead to questions whether the coach’s fiery demeanor is the best environment for players to learn and develop.

The coach’s tactics also came into question in the wake of a loss at home to the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.

Leading scorers Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine combined for one shot attempt in the final five minutes of what would be a three-point loss, and that shot was a desperation 3-point attempt by LaVine with 4.9 seconds remaining.

Instead, Kris Dunn — who was 2-for-8 with six points in 35 minutes — was having the offense run through him in pick-and-roll sets with center Robin Lopez, while Markkanen and LaVine drifted on the perimeter.

Bold strategy, but ultimately not all that effective.