CHICAGO – With the official introduction of Fred Hoiberg as the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls Tuesday, the Bulls front office flopped big time in his hiring.
Hoiberg, 42, who signed a five-year $25 million deal to replace recently departed Tom Thibodeau, takes over a Bulls roster with almost no cap space to add additional pieces, and faces a dilemma in trying to match an offer for restricted free agent Jimmy Butler.
A former shooting guard selected 52nd overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 1995 NBA Draft out of Iowa State, Hoiberg played for the Bulls for four years—as a noted three-point specialist—and the Minnesota Timberwolves before retiring due to heart troubles.
While he does have experience playing in the NBA and knows how to run a pro-style system, as opposes to Thib’s Spartan-like, defensive-minded system with little offense, Hoiberg’s hire is mainly due to his alleged close relationship with former Bulls GM Jerry Krause and head coach Tim Floyd, makes this writer feel that he will more of an agreeable puppet and glorified yes-man, than a real leader of men.
Can Hoiberg sell the likes of a battle-tested corps of players such as Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and a two-time NBA champion in Pau Gasol on his system? What about potential free agent such as native son, Dwyane Wade? Would he pull a LeBron and come home to play for his favorite childhood team under a baby-faced rookie coach?
This is in no way an affront or disrespect to Hoiberg—who won 67.3 percent of his games at Iowa State in posting a record of 115-56—but the way and manner that the Bulls—most notably owner Jerry Reinsdorf—in having security usher Thibodeau out of the building in such an unprofessional manner speaks volumes of how the Bulls organization is run as a business.
The Windy City media are not as warm and cuddly as Ames, which I’m sure that the former 2012 Big 12 Coach of the Year is used to, but what happens if the Bulls start off slow? What if they fail to not make it to the playoffs, let alone the Finals, as they play in the same division as some guy known as LBJ does?
The skepticism from the fans will be much harsher and the criticism from the Chicago media will be much harsher to handle on a day-to-day basis. Again, I just don’t see where this is a good fit for both sides.
Chicago sports fans are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable in all of sports, and outside of perhaps Boston and New York, are exceptionally knowledgeable when it comes to hoops.
If Bulls fans are even remotely lukewarm, and are still reeling over the firing of “Thibs” as he was called by the Chicago faithful, then that is a giant—pardon the pun, red—flag that the Bulls missed entirely.
Only time will tell, but based on early impressions, the Bulls missed the mark in hiring Hoiberg.