The skidding Chicago Bulls fired coach Fred Hoiberg on Monday and promoted associate head coach Jim Boylen in hopes of lifting the team from the bottom of the standings.
The Bulls have been hit hard by injuries this season and are at 5-19. Only two teams have worse records.
“Decisions like this one are never easy to make, however I felt this was the right choice for our organization at this time,” said Jim Paxson, the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations. “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.”
The Bulls have been riddled by injuries all year. Denzel Valentine (ankle), Kris Dunn (knee) and Bobby Portis (knee) have missed significant time and forward Lauri Markkanen didn’t make his season debut until this past weekend because of an elbow injury.
The 7-foot Markkanen is perhaps the centerpiece of Chicago’s rebuilding plan, but Hoiberg won’t be around to see it through. He finishes his tenure in Chicago, where he played for four seasons and had a long history with general manager Gar Forman, with a record of 115-155 (.426) and a single playoff appearance, when the Bulls were ousted in the first round by Boston in 2017.
Hoiberg was named Chicago’s head coach in June 2015 after spending five seasons at Iowa State, where the former player was nicknamed “the Mayor.” Hoiberg went 115-56 at Iowa State, including four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and back-to-back Big 12 tournament titles.
He replaced Tom Thibodeau, who was fired after five seasons, and the hope was that the free-wheeling style he used with the Cyclones would work in the NBA and that he would fare better than another former Iowa State coach, Tim Floyd, who went 49-190 in three-plus seasons with the Bulls.
The circumstances were different, but the results were disappointing. Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic were among the departures as the Bulls tried to find the right formula.
Boylen is a veteran but this will be his first time as an NBA head coach; he spent four years as the head coach at the University of Utah. Over 20 years in the NBA, he also has been an assistant in Houston, Golden State, Milwaukee, Indiana and San Antonio.