New Bulls coach Jim Boylen is piling on the work load and won’t apologize for it

Zach LaVine knows it’s got to let up at some point.

Make that, he hopes it’s going to let up at some point.

The Jim Boylen Era kicked off Monday, and that included back-to-back two-and-a-half hour practices on Wednesday and Thursday, and then a 90-minute shootaround on Friday.

So of course LaVine gave an uncomfortable laugh when asked how he felt after all the extra work with Boylen now at the helm.

You know … yeah,’’ LaVine said. “Gotta get used to it.’’

Not that Boylen is giving his players much of a choice. Since insisting after the Tuesday loss in Indiana that this roster needed to be better conditioned, Boylen has not only backed that up with lengthy practices, but a lot of running in those practices, including some old-school suicides.

“We’ve had some running … some running,’’ LaVine said. “It’s OK. He wants to make his mark. You have to understand that. I think things will slow up as the season goes on.’’

But for now? No, this is the new norm and Boylen won’t apologize for that.

“Our will needs to be better when we’re tired, so hopefully we’ll be less tired and hopefully our will grows from what we’re working on,’’ Boylen said. “That’s a big issue with us right now is our will comes and goes during the game. If you’re mentally tougher, if you’re in better shape, I think maybe your will can last a little longer, so that’s where that’s coming from.’’

The nice thing for Boylen is this group has not resisted the extra work. At least not yet. Because it’s one of the younger rosters in the league, Boylen’s word is law so far.

“What I talk about is are you coachable, do you honor coaching?’’ Boylen said. “Are you teachable, can you learn how to play the right way? When you’re coachable, teachable, you become reliable, and we’re trying to become reliable, and we’re not there yet.’’

Boylen, who took over for Fred Hoiberg on Monday, feels like he can get them there, however.

“Because I’m direct and honest, and they’re going to know exactly where they stand in every moment, every day,’’ Boylen said. “The great guys I worked for, that’s what they do, and that’s what I want to do. These guys know that. They know how I operate, and I’ve operated that way since I’ve been here.
Direct and honest. Nobody likes to be told the truth when it’s not good for them, but at the end of the day they know deep down inside that it’s what they needed to hear.’’

Another day

If the Bulls weren’t facing a back-to-back Friday and Saturday, there’s a good chance that both Bobby Portis (right knee) and Kris Dunn (left knee) would have played against the Thunder.

So while it seems like they could both be back Saturday, Boylen was playing it safe.

“They had a good day,’’ Boylen said of the two working out on Friday. “I’m not trying to be vague, I just don’t know. We kind of wait to see how they respond in the morning. It’s one of those types of things. They do their check-in and we go from there.’’

Long road back

Denzel Valentine, who had reconstructive surgery on his left ankle last week, told the media that as long as there are no setbacks, he should start running by February.

And while Valentine was bummed that he would miss the rest of this season, he stood behind the decision to have the surgery now, insisting it was either going to be now or later.


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