More news and notes coming out today following the Bulls surprisingly-timed dismissal of Fred Hoiberg this morning. I kinda said all I wanted to in the initial post: it was a poor process to hire Hoiberg in the first place, and the front office didn’t facilitate him well to succeed. He should’ve been fired, yet it also shows badly for the organization that they fired him. Both can be true.
Of course there’s no management change
There was some early percolation of Gar Forman’s job being in jeopardy too - Hoiberg was his guy after all, and he did not address the media today - but a few things on that:
- Per sources and Paxson himself, Gar’s job is safe
- Gar was there in-person to deliver the news to Hoiberg and remained in the facility during the press availability even though he didn’t speak.
- Paxson tried to make it clear that it wasn’t just Gar’s doing to hire Hoiberg. To me it never made sense that it would be, or at least that Paxson would admit it unless Pax was superlatively averse to responsibility.
Paxson lumped him and Gar together, with the Reinsdorf family...indeed “employees for life”, as Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times (as in, mainstream source for once) said this morning.
Ouch, my spirit
Paxson did show himself, though looking like he was just forcibly removed from the Wilson underpass. There was a lot about nebulous benchmarks regarding the ‘spirit’ of the team being different with this crappy roster versus last year’s crappy roster.
I find it fascinating that our lead basketball decision-maker determines ‘spirit’ as what’s lacking instead of talented players. Besides, the ‘spirit’ seemed fine.
But to this point: there was more from Paxson on how his team wasn’t taking losses hard enough...when before the season and in this very same press conference he said the wins and losses didn’t matter! How is the team supposed to interpret that?
Boylen, for his part, made a couple things clear: he is going to start Markkanen and bring Jabari Parker off the bench (good!). And he’s going to yell more during the games than Hoiberg did.
This is the typical pivot for a coaching change. Go from the yell-y hardass to the calmer players’ guy and then back again. Skiles->VDN->Thibs->Hoiberg->Boylen. What’s not typical is one getting to make all those pivots.
Jim Boylen is the committed-to head coach, until the next one
And another interesting takeaway from the initial news fallout is Boylen’s status looking surprisingly secure.
He was not labeled an ‘interim’ coach. And per Woj’s reporting, Boylen was already signed through next season. Between that guaranteed money to Boylen and the remaining year on Hoiberg’s contract (Bulls would only be able to offset that amount if Hoiberg coaches in the NBA), it’s very Bulls-y to speculate that the Bulls giving Boylen ‘every chance’ isn’t because John Paxson sees something in the new coach as much as he knows they’re not going to pay for a third one.
And speaking of resources, the Bulls do not plan on add any more coaches to their overall staff, though they are transitioning Dean Cooper from the GLeague squad to Boylen’s bench. Cooper worked with Boylen previously in the late 90s with the Houston Rockets and was just hired to the Windy City Bulls this season. Boylen’s coaching history also has lengthy ties to Michigan State University, a creeping influence in the Bulls organization though not close to surmounting Iowa State quite yet.
Boylen has had lengthy experience and could do good things here. The team defense he’s helmed here has been bad but measured better than expected given the personnel. And once Markkanen is to full strength and more of these injured rotation players return, the Bulls should look better...and I suppose then they’ll spin that as due to the better attitude than better players.