When Fred Hoiberg was called by Gar Forman and John Paxson, they sold him on a younger and more athletic Bulls team. A team that would be able to compete in the Eastern Conference and take down Lebron James and the Cavaliers. Hoiberg took the bait, left Iowa State and became the head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls front office made it known that their mission was to get younger and more athletic. Then, they quickly went the other way, signing 35-year-old Dwyane Wade and 30-year-old Rajon Rondo. Both of which would have been major signings that would put the Bulls in the upper half of the Eastern Conference — in 2007.
Expectations were low to begin the season. Then the Bulls surprised us all, starting the season 9-6 and ranking towards the top in offensive efficiency, much like many of Hoiberg’s teams at Iowa State did. Many of the offensive sets you would see were similar to the ones we saw in Hilton for five seasons and the term “Hoiball” had even made its way from Ames to Chicago. Things were looking up.
Then, the wheels quickly fell off and the Bulls began to struggle. Scoring became an issue and defensive problems late in games led to many leads blown in the 4th quarter. There have been times the team appears they’re just there because they had to be. Other times, they’ve gone out and beat some of the best. Which, ironically, happened many times during Hoiberg’s tenure at Iowa State.
Now, the Bulls posses a record of 23-24 and are in the last spot in the playoff standings in the Eastern Conference.
All this has collected into one giant pot of tension, which brings us to Wednesday night. The Bulls were leading the Atlanta Hawks by 10 with three minutes left in the 4th quarter. They ended up losing the game 119-110, and soon after the game, the Bulls’ biggest stars decided to sound off on the team’s lack of effort.
Warning, this contains some strong language:
NSFW: Jimmy Butler rips his Chicago Bulls teammates #BullsNation (via @CodyWesterlund) pic.twitter.com/49WYPYNXCm— The Fanatics View (@thefanaticsview) January 26, 2017
Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler expressed concerns with the effort the Bulls are giving. https://t.co/UZUWrb0bTM pic.twitter.com/ZwEia8Sbyi— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 26, 2017
On Thursday night, Rajon Rondo addressed everything on Instagram.
Rajon Rondo makes a statement on Instagram. Wow. pic.twitter.com/L0LoqFXvMC— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) January 26, 2017
Ever since Hoiberg started coaching the Bulls, there’s been concern that he may not be able to reach any of the players. This has never come into the spotlight more than it is now.
Which makes me think back to Hoiberg’s last season at Iowa State. After the loss to UAB, rumors swirled that locker room tension led to a team divide at certain points in the season. No one can really say for sure that was true, but the similarity to the problems for the Bulls is too coincidental.
Some of these issues at Iowa State may have driven Hoiberg’s decision to leave Ames. That’s something we will have to speculate on, but for now, things in Chicago haven taken a turn for the worse.
In calling out #Bulls teammates--which people love--Wade/Butler also indict Hoiberg's inability to reach players and GarPax for bad roster.— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) January 26, 2017
Now, with the lack of help from the front office to piece together a formidable roster, the lack of teamwork, and the inability of Hoiberg to piece things together on the floor... Fred may be in way over his head with a franchise that is heading down a dark path.
There’s no doubt that Hoiberg can coach, but the NBA is a different monster when it comes to personalities. If things don’t change soon, the Mayor may get caught up in the next Bulls overhaul.
Things are about to get real interesting in Chicago.