The Chicago Bulls have fired head coach Fred Hoiberg today, after three full seasons, one playoff series, and a 5-19 start to the 2018-19 campaign. Yes, he was still there.
Hoiberg, who played for the Bulls in the early 2000s, came back to the team in the summer of 2015 after five seasons coaching Iowa State. He arrived at a weird point in the franchise’s story, as a talented core of Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Derrick Rose had put up respectable records in the East but continually stalled in the playoffs. In Hoiberg’s debut season replacing Tom Thibodeau, he struggled to earn his players’ respect, and the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The front office decided that it was time for some changes, trading Rose and letting Noah and Pau Gasol leave in free agency. Butler would be dealt to the Timberwolves following Hoiberg’s second season, a big ol’ dramatic mess that ended in a first-round loss to the Celtics.
The new, improved Bulls are supposed to be centered around young guys like seven-foot deep-ball threat Lauri Markkanen, playmaking guard Kris Dunn, and high-flying wingman Zach LaVine. But the team still took a big step backwards in 2017-18 without Butler by going 27-55. Chicago’s putrid start to this season is a result of injuries to Markkanen, Dunn, Bobby Portis, and Denzel Valentine, but still, the offense was consistently bad and is currently worst in the league.
Veteran assistant Jim Boylen will get his first NBA head coaching opportunity as his old boss’s permanent (not interim) replacement. He is not to be confused with former Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan, who took over in December of 2007 when the team fired Scott Skiles. This odd similarity already makes Jim Boylen more notable than Fred Hoiberg.