The Knicks have cemented themselves as the NBA’s laughingstock, but there’s another major-market team quietly inching towards their level of dysfunction: the Chicago Bulls.

On Wednesday night, the Bulls lost for the 11th time in 13 games, with this one coming at the hands of the 19-42 Minnesota Timberwolves. After the game, their usually positive head coach Jim Boylen faced the media, offering some uncharacteristically harsh words for his team.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” Boylen said. “I don’t care who’s coming back. I don’t care who’s been out, who’s working on a minute restriction. I didn’t think we were tough enough tonight, and I didn’t like it.”

Why was this the night that Boylen lost his cool? It’s a good question.

The Timberwolves shot 50 percent from the field, but it’s not far above the Bulls’ season-long opponent field goal percentage of 47.8 (27th in the NBA). Minnesota grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, right around their 10.6 average. The Bulls had a lead and blew it, but they do that so often that live-betting against them when they’re ahead has become free money.

Their effort and performance Wednesday was well within the norm for their season, one in which Boylen and executive John Paxson publicly promised a playoff berth. So really, Boylen’s postgame ire makes no sense. Nor does anything else he has done recently.

For example, Boylen has made a habit of calling timeouts in baffling situations. In a blowout loss against the Suns, Boylen called a timeout with 30 seconds left with his team down 10 points. Zach LaVine, the Bulls’ biggest star, was caught on TV recently cameras saying, “Why are we calling a timeout down f–king 10?”

Then, on Monday against the Mavericks, Boylen called a timeout as Ryan Arcidiacono was streaking down the court for a wide-open basket. The timeout negated a layup. It was so egregious that Luka Doncic was caught laughing on camera.

Coby White
Coby WhiteGetty Images

The Bulls’ best player over the past several games has been guard Coby White, who was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in February. White has scored at least 19 points in six straight games, including a stretch of three straight 33-point performances. So who has been starting at point guard? Tomas Satoransky, who was signed as a 3-point shooter, but has made well below 30% behind the arc in the calendar year.

Just three games into Boylen’s tenure, which started in the middle of last season, Chicago threatened a player mutiny. After a 56-point loss to the Celtics, Boylen called for a practice of heavy conditioning despite the fact that the team had a back-to-back. The players refused to show up, and called a players-only meeting instead.

Of course, the Bulls’ dysfunction wouldn’t be fully explained without mentioning Paxson and Gar Forman, the team’s executives. They’ve mismanaged the team for years: They traded away Jimmy Butler, let Spencer Dinwiddie walk from training camp and signed Cristiano Felicio to an extension despite the fact that he might not know how to play basketball.

What did Gar/Pax do after the player mutiny? They signed Boylen to a contract extension.

A year-plus into that experiment, Boylen is 38-82. His players have publicly disrespected him. The United Center is emptying out: The Bulls had been either first or second in NBA attendance every year since 2005, but plummeted to 11th this season. Fans are in such an all-out revolt that #FireGarPax was trending on Twitter during the All-Star Game in Chicago. They started a chant with that exact phrase during a live interview with LaVine on “First Take,” who did not seem to hate it.

On Wednesday, Boylen was asked how his team would respond to his verbal challenge.

“I am positive, guys. I’m coaching my team. Let me coach my team,” Boylen said.

Maybe, just maybe, they shouldn’t.