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The Chicago Bulls appear to be sliding off the rails. What's one thing -- the first thing -- this franchise needs to do to get back on track?
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Steve Aschburner: Stick to the Xs and Os for a while, and do it according to generally accepted activity principles. That means new coach Jim Boylen conveying the necessary messages in 90-minute practices and 45-minute shootarounds and backing off from the way he overloaded the work schedule in his first week. It also means the players focusing -- hard -- on basketball and behaving just a teeny, tiny bit like what they’re doing is a job, with accountability and bosses' demands. It was a miserable look to complain about a practice the day after participating, at home, in the franchise's most lopsided loss ever, regardless of the five previous days' duties. Presumably both sides have grown from the embarrassing episode, and the healthiest Bulls squad so far this season can get busy doubling its victory total in, say, half the 28 games it took just to get six.
Shaun Powell: They need to take a serious look at the front office and see if it's working. Gar Foreman and John Paxson have had some decent drafts but little else and it's apparent they have a coaching problem here in December. For a team that hasn't put forth a reliable foundation, that from office has remained in place for a long time. Might be time to go in another direction.
John Schuhmann: More often than not, success and failure in this league start at the top. Bulls' ownership and the front office team of Gar Forman and John Paxson need to look in the mirror and figure out why the organization isn't functioning the right way. Even when the team was having success (the Tom Thibodeau years), there was a disconnect between management and the coaching staff. I'm not sure how they go from where they are now to having everyone pulling in the same direction, but it is possible to hire a coach that's neither too tough nor too soft on the players. The development of their two young big men -- Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. -- within a constructive environment should be priority No. 1.
Sekou Smith: The first thing the Bulls have to do is decide who is going to serve as the leader of the franchise. And not in name or in theory, but in the flesh. Whoever that is (owner or front-office man), he better step up and fill that void immediately. And if that's not the coach, fine. But if the players in that locker room are left to wonder who is the true leader of that operation, it's an issue that will continue to drag the entire group down. That's why I'm never in favor of in-season coaching changes without a clear-cut vision of who the replacement is and that replacement being given every resource to do the job right. Change for the sake of change without a real plan is the worst possible situation to be in, particularly for a team stocked with young talent but no real direction.