On Monday, the Chicago Bulls announced the unexptected firing of Head Coach Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls, who are in the midst of a rebuilding phase, sent “Their Guy” to the door right before practice. They are currently sitting at 14th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 5-19, but the problems go well beyond Hoiberg and his coaching style.
It’s no secret the Bulls were going to be bad for a few seasons, and once the last players from the Tom Thibodeau were gone, it really open up the chance for Hoiberg to get players that fit his system and style to a tee. But after just a short time to really work with a young core of players, he was given his walking papers. Now, some didn’t see Hoiberg as an NBA Coach, and I was among those but he was given no help from the Front Office during his time in Chicago.
The firing was not because of his record, lack of NBA experience as a coach, but more came down to the Bulls seeking a leadership change of the players. It was no secret Hoiberg was not a very vocal coach, and at times it seemed he wasn’t able to take command of his players and coach them in critical situations. The lack of leadership seems to be what lead to Hoiberg being let go, not just on his part, but on the part of the Front Office.
Ever since Hoiberg was hired to go in the offensive minded direction of the league, the team has gone is just about direction you could imagine. Trading an All-Star, drafting a young core, and not playing even what is remotely considered defense at any level of basketball. The lack of direction lead to changing tides that Hoiberg weathered as best he could during his time, even when it didn’t seem like the changes would be for “The Guy”.
What this firing shows more than anything is the Front Office continues to lack direction, leadership, and anything close to good basketball decisions. Paxson stated that, even with this half put together NBA roster, Gar Forman’s job is safe. What this shows is the Bulls are okay with being a middle or bottom tier team at best, regardless of the coach at the helm. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who is going to be the next coach, Jim Boylen.
Boylen has been an associate Head Coach for the Bulls since 2015, and before that he was under Greg “Pop” Popovich with the Spurs. Like Hoiberg he has a college background, but also gained valuable assistant coaching experience before making the leap to the NBA. Boylen is the exact opposite of Hoiberg. He’s fiery, vocal, and will let you know when he is displeased. The Bulls skipped the interim title with him, and this looks like a move towards him being with the team long term. Though this style is different, and the Bulls could be in for some different style practices and schemes, it will all play out over the next 50 plus games to see if anything significant can change.
Although he may not be “Their Guy” he will be under the same regime Hoiberg failed under, and with the consistent lack of direction and leadership, Boylen could be set up for failure just like Hoiberg.