Fred Hoiberg Fired by Bulls After 3-Plus Seasons

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2018

Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg cheers on his players in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Fred Hoiberg's time with the Chicago Bulls is over.

The Bulls fired their head coach Monday following three-plus seasons at the helm.

John Paxson, the Bulls' executive vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement:

"Decisions like this one are never easy to make, however I felt this was the right choice for our organization at this time. After a thorough evaluation, I elected to make this move with the overall development of our team in mind. 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. I want to thank Fred for his dedication and efforts, as well as for his enduring commitment to our team."

Jim Boylen will serve as the Bulls' permanent head coach, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported Hoiberg was caught off guard by the firing and arrived at team facilities Monday prepared to run practice. Johnson also reported Hoiberg wants to continue coaching and prefers to stay in the NBA. He previously coached at Iowa State.

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Hoiberg was hired prior to the 2015-16 season to replace Tom Thibodeau, and his arrival brought the promise of a faster, more modern offense after the team played at a plodding pace under its former boss.

However, the Bulls didn't make big strides under Hoiberg's leadership during Year 1 and finished the 2015-16 campaign a modest 42-40. Chicago played .500 ball (41-41) the next season and qualified for the playoffs but ultimately bowed out to the Boston Celtics in the first round.

Following two years of trying to keep the Bulls competitive in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, Hoiberg had a different job description entering the 2017-18 season.

Specifically, he started to oversee a rebuilding club when the front office shipped Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a draft-night deal that netted Chicago youngsters Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

With that philosophical shift, the Bulls went 27-55, but their tantalizing potential was on display in December when they went 10-6 and briefly surged out of the Eastern Conference cellar.

Given the mandate to rebuild, Hoiberg's future appeared to be safe. The Bulls started 5-19 this season but played without Markkanen for the first 23 games. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Hoiberg believed he would have an opportunity to coach a fully healthy roster. 

But with time to ponder the future, the franchise evidently had a change of heart.

Now, the Bulls will have to pivot once again as they try to build around LaVine, Dunn and Markkanen in hopes of steadily evolving back into a postseason contender.