SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Bulls coach Jim Boylen wasn’t about to sugarcoat the emotion he was feeling Saturday.
“Yeah, it’s a big one,’’ he said when discussing his return to the place where he had his first head-coaching job, running the Utah Utes from 2007 to ’11.
Heck, the 2009 Mountain West Conference Championship banner hanging from the rafters in the Jon M. Huntsman Center is the last time the Utes have accomplished that feat, and it was with Boylen at the helm, so of course there was some emotion.
“First of all I loved it at Utah, I loved it there,’’ Boylen said. “I loved everything about it, and it was very disappointing when that situation didn’t work out. That being said, I wouldn’t be the coach I am today if that wouldn’t have happened. I know I wouldn’t be here with the Bulls.’’
Which is another reason for Boylen to have some emotion, because he’s not just “here with the Bulls,’’ but now he has even more staying power.
A team source told the Sun-Times on Saturday that Boylen has not only received a bump in pay since he took over from Fred Hoiberg on Dec. 3, but that bump includes him receiving “a contract beyond this year.’’
The source was asked if the contract went past next season, and did not comment, but it was later confirmed that it was just through 2019-20 for now.
When he was first named head coach, Boylen was working on his associate head coaching deal, which paid him just over $800,000 the rest of this season and through next season. The Sun-Times reported that Boylen was betting on himself to earn that increase, at least for 2019-20.
A gesture that the front office appreciated since they would be paying the remainder of Hoiberg’s $5 million through 2018-19, as well as another $5 million they owed Hoiberg for next season. Now that Boylen has been bumped, any notion that they have plans to move on from him leading into the 2019-20 campaign is all but flat-lined.
Board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has never been a fan of handing out dead money to former coaches, let alone pay for two coaches through 2020, as well as taking on the salary of a new hire if they did remove Boylen at the end of the regular season.
It’s simple economics for critics of Boylen, and while his detractors haven’t been put in checkmate, this latest news at least puts them in check and running out of moves.
Like him or dislike him, the Boylen Era now has some more legs.
And while Boylen has done a good job avoiding discussions about his immediate future, being back in Utah opened up some memories of his past.
“I learned a ton and I grew here,’’ Boylen said. “It helped me become a better coach, a better everything, just going through that process of what I could have done differently, what I could have done better. What I did well, and owning that, but also owning what I needed to improve on. The relationship piece with my [Athletic Director in Chris Hill] was obviously a frustrating thing. Same guy that hired me, same guy that gave me my big extension, was the same guy that let me go. But I loved where it led me.
“I mean three years later we were winning a championship in San Antonio , and now I’m the head coach of the Bulls. So you could say it was a really good thing for me and made me better.’’
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