Nearly at bot­tom, Bulls fire Hoiberg

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NBA - Jeff Zill­gitt USA TO­DAY

The Bulls, at 5-19 en­ter­ing the week with the third-worst record in the NBA, fired coach Fred Hoiberg Dec. 3.

The team named long­time NBA as­sis­tant coach Jim Boylen its head coach.

“Af­ter a thor­ough eval­u­a­tion, I elected to make this move with the over­all de­vel­op­ment of our team in mind,” Bulls ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions John Pax­son said in the news re­lease.

“As a team, I be­lieve it is im­per­a­tive that we make un­fal­ter­ing strides in the right di­rec­tion and build the right habits to help put our play­ers in the best po­si­tion to evolve not only now, but into the fu­ture.”

Hoiberg is the sec­ond NBA coach fired this sea­son, fol­low­ing the dis­missal of Cleve­land’s Ty­ronn Lue. Hoiberg had a 115155 record and one play­off ap­pear­ance in three-plus sea­sons with the Bulls. He was in the fourth year of a five-year deal.

Hired in 2015 to help the Bulls tran­si­tion from the Tom Thi­bodeau-era play­off teams, Hoiberg was a .500 coach his first two sea­sons with some holdovers from those Thi­bodeau teams.

But it was a never easy for Hoiberg, who played and coached at Iowa State, to con­nect with vet­eran play­ers. He didn’t al­ways en­joy his foray into the NBA.

How­ever, it was ex­pected Hoiberg would fare bet­ter with younger play­ers, and that’s the di­rec­tion the Bulls were headed with guard Zach LaVine and for­wards Lauri Markka­nen, Wen­dell Carter. Jr. and Jabari Parker.

The Bulls are 28th offen­sively and 24th de­fen­sively. But it’s hard to judge Hoiberg on those num­bers be­cause he hasn’t had a full roster, in­clud­ing miss­ing Markka­nen, a first-team Al­lRookie player last sea­son who just re­turned for his first game fol­low­ing a sprained el­bow. For­ward Bobby Por­tis, who has dealt with a knee sprain, has played in just four games.

Boylen, who has been around the league for two decades, gets a chance to guide the Bulls. It won’t be easy. While there are promis­ing play­ers on the roster, it’s also an im­per­fect one with de­fen­sive short­com­ings.

STEPHEN LEW/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

The Bulls were 5-19 un­der Fred Hoiberg this sea­son.

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