Report: Fred Hoiberg Lost Control of Bulls, Zach LaVine Did 'Anything He Wanted'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2018

Chicago Bulls' head coach Fred Hoiberg questions a call in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Before he lost his job earlier this week, now-former Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg had reportedly lost control of his team.

The Athletic's Darnell Mayberry reported Tuesday that "players no longer believed in his system and became increasingly emboldened in undermining Hoiberg's authority." Meanwhile, Bulls star Zach LaVine was reportedly allowed to do "anything he wanted."  

All of that contributed to the fear of a players revolt at some point this season, per Mayberry.      

Chicago executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said Hoiberg's 5-19 record was not what cost him his job, via ESPN:

"What we're lacking is an energy and a spirit about our team, and we need to get that back," Paxson said. "It's not as simple as saying we would have gotten that with healthy, healthy players. ... It wasn't going to be that simple."

Mayberry's report offers some insight as to what was going on behind the scenes, which seems to be what Paxson was hinting at.

There was reportedly strong belief within the Bulls organization that Hoiberg was not holding players accountable for their actions. That was exemplified by his handling of LaVine, who re-signed with the team on a four-year, $78 million deal this past summer. 

Ultimately, Paxson and Co. believed the Bulls needed a new voice in the locker room, and they tabbed associate head coach Jim Boylen to replace Hoiberg. An insider told Mayberry that Boylen is not afraid to "bust people's chops and hold people accountable."

While injuries to Denzel Valentine (ankle), Kris Dunn (knee), Bobby Portis (knee) and Lauri Markkanen (elbow) did not make it easy for Hoiberg to win games, the change of command apparently did not have to do with results. It was all about the culture, which is important for a team that has missed out on the playoffs in two of the past three seasons.


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