Fred Hoiberg's Firing and the Long Uphill Climb in Chicago
The Fred Hoiberg era is over in Chicago and the Open Floor Podcast crew isn't surprised. Andrew Sharp and The Washington Post's Ben Golliver discussed what went wrong with the Bulls, including Hoiberg's lackluster showing and managements struggles to add talent and. They also consider how attractive the Bulls job should be for coaches on the open market.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Andrew Sharp: What is there really to say about Fred Hoiberg getting fired?
Ben Golliver: I was shocked, I didn't see it coming, Andrew. I'm just kidding.
Sharp: We called it in like June. The Bulls have been so screwed up for so many years, and I don't think Hoiberg's a good coach. I didn't see a lot of positive signs from him over the past few years, but some of the lineups he was dealing with and some of the signings... I would have had a psychotic break when they said they were bringing in Rondo and Wade and it was my job to convince those guys to play defense for six months.
Golliver: Point blank: The front office screwed him in as many different ways as a front office can screw a coach. They found every way to screw him, but the tricky part for him was he had no leg to stand out. So the whole time through it's the offense, right? He's going to be this offensive coach, is he going to be able to install his offense?
Well, you look at the roster they gave him. Atrocious. Injuries everywhere. I would not wish the Bulls roster as it stood during the opening season on anyone, let alone my word enemy. Nobody. And if Fred's supposed to be an offensive coach but you give him like four or five guys who can score a lot and not really play defense, you would expect to have some sort of meaningful progress on offense, even if there's injuries. Last year they're 28th. This year they're dead last. So if you're an offensive coach, you've had three or four shots at it, you've got the worst offense in the league. They lose nothing by firing you.
Sharp: Here's my real question, though. Can you remember back to when the Bulls were relevant and people really gave a s--- about this team?
Golliver: I was like four or five years old...
Sharp: No, like five or so years ago when the Bulls were a playoff team, there were always rumors that Gar and Pax wanted Fred Hoiberg to come in and take control of the franchise and modernize everything. I'm not privy to how things work in the Berto Center, but I feel like they staked a lot of their equity on Hoiberg.
Golliver: I think they should have, but I don't think their ownership group cares.
Sharp: I don't understand how this isn't an indictment of the guys who have been running this all along.
Golliver: That was the most incredible thing to come out of the press conference of Paxson saying, 'Oh, Gar is absolutely say. What do you mean?' What? Safe from what?
Sharp: Have you been paying attention, dude? I don't own a basketball team, but if my general manager ever gave Jabari Parker the deal that the Bulls gave him this summer that alone would be a fireable offense, and that's kind of how I feel about the Wizards with the player-option they gave Dwight. Certain things are so illogical that they speak to latent dysfunction, because there's no other way to explain it.
Golliver: The guy I feel bad for in all of this is Wendell Carter Jr., because he is already the smartest and most mature player on their entire team. Now you have to deal with being on your second coach, he could be on his third coach by next season depending on how that shakes out. He has no reason to trust management because he's smart enough to realize Jabari can't do anything and he's making $20 million. Zach, I don't know if you saw, one of the worst plays I've seen all season long was a last second shot, Zach calls off the screen, Hoiberg's on the sideline doubled over in agony because he knows Zach's about to take a hero ball three. They're down one. Does he even hit the rim?
Sharp: He's been getting a lot of mileage out of the Bulls' injuries as rationalization for his behavior, but that's a guy that's going to be under the microscope for the next month or so.
Golliver: Earlier I mentioned Kevin Durant can't take a hero ball shot because it's always a good shot. Zach LaVine can definitely take a hero ball shot. That's not a good shot and he did it with the whole game on the line and all his teammates were simultaneously disgusted. Hoiberg was disgusted. It's amazing he didn't resign on that moment, so I guess we give Fred credit. At least you get your pay out.
Sharp: How attractive is the Bulls job at this point?
Golliver: I would not use the word attractive. I would say would anyone take it? Next summer could look different. If they come to their senses and realize Jabari can't play that's some money that you're not paying, that's some ego you don't have to manage. They need a point guard, and if I was a coach I would not take the job unless I had a very clear play for how I was getting my point guard. They need an answer at point guard and I would not take any job, especially one that has a lot of pressure on it, if you don't have a point guard. I just wouldn't do it.
Sharp: I don't know about that because I think you can find a point guard. There's never been more point guard talent at any point in history. My take is that the Bulls job is probably a lot more attractive than it actually looks right now. Because you can't talk about the Bulls job without saying the Hoiberg situation has been an absolute mess, and one of the worst messes in the league for four years now.
Golliver: They're a point guard away from being very interesting but you can say that about a lot of teams.