CHICAGO – All three of the principals in the Chicago Bulls’ 48 hours of drama – Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo – reportedly were fined by team management for taking their “he said/he posted” criticisms public.
But coach Fred Hoiberg wasn’t quite done.
Hoiberg announced in his pregame media session Friday evening that Wade and Butler would be held out of the starting lineup against the Heat at United Center. Hoiberg said both would play but Doug McDermott and Paul Zipser would take their spots at tipoff.
Entering tonight, Dwyane Wade has played 897 games in his career, but only 10 of those games were played off the bench.
“Based on what happened the other night, we felt it was appropriate to make the change,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve spoken to both of them about it. They both understand. We’re going to move forward.”
Wade and Butler spoke amid the rubble of Wednesday’s collapse against the Hawks, in which Chicago blew a 10-point lead at home in the final three minutes, getting outscored 19-4.
Rondo took exception to the two Marquette products’ criticism of unspecified role players, firing back in an Instagram post Thursday evening. He contrasted Wade’s and Butler’s tactics by lauding the leadership of “my vets” Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce during their time together with the Boston Celtics.
All the involved parties, along with Bulls general manager Gar Forman, spoke after a team meeting and the shootaround workout Friday morning. Forman was promptly criticized for giving a brief statement but answering no questions. Hoiberg and the players all stood in to discuss the mess, claiming there would be no lingering bad blood.
As for Rondo, his role off the Bulls bench would remain the same for Friday’s game, taken by some that he “won” the back-and-forth. Others were poised to parse the playing-time penalty Wade and Butler would pay, wondering if they would be held out for the entire first quarter against the Heat.
Hoiberg, who said the decision to change the lineup was his, admitted he was curious to see how his team weathered the turmoil.
“We thought it was a productive day,” he said in the evening. “When you have meetings like that – I’ve been a part of a lot of them in the course of my career – you hope your team can go out and find a way to band together, and play with great effort.”
Hoiberg’s job security was the subject of speculation in late December, about the same time he demoted Rondo from the starting lineup. This latest episode has only added to the pressure on him, and Wade probably didn’t help matters Friday morning. Asked if the coach still has command of the locker room, Wade told reporters to “ask Fred.”
One video clip floating around the Internet from Wednesday appears to show Hoiberg calling for a timeout, but Butler reacting negatively.
Asked about that Friday, the Bulls coach said: “The way that went down, we had one timeout left. There was 20 seconds. I thought about calling it. We ended up not calling it. If I wanted to call a timeout, I would have called a timeout.”