Ask Sam Mailbag: 12.07.18

I was curious to hear what people are saying about Fred being fired. Here's what I "learned"...

The consensus is that Fred never had a fair chance, but also that he wasn't competent, and almost everybody wonders why they didn't give him the rest of the season, though many think he would be gone then anyway.

In that respect, I'd have to agree. The Bulls' recent woes fall on the FO as well as Fred. They've done some weird things... incl. his hiring. And I would have given him the rest of the season. Still, I do get Pax's point that he just didn't seem
to have that fire, much less the ability to light it up in others. Most people think that – title or no – Jim Boylen is an interim coach and not the final answer. I'm not so sure about that. He has 3 rings as an Asst. and worked under Pop, so
maybe he's ready. But as they say, moving over that one chair is the biggest 18 inches in the world. Let's see how he does and who's available this summer.

ESPN can't tell Boylen from Boylan. They actually reported that this was Boylen's 2nd stint with the Bulls, and their graphic of past Bulls coaches listed 'Jim Boylen' right after Skiles.

CBS pronounces John Paxson's name as 'Paxton'.

And there's a theory about Fred being fired for playing Lauri a game too early, or for not starting him on Saturday. It may not be coincidence that they want a fresh voice just as the injured guys are back.

Art Alenik

The fair part really is moot in sports, especially coaching, and that life in general thing. It is a function of the capitalistic system we so much embrace. Employees don't have the power. Though they only seem to in theory as opposed to reality
in those other nirvanas. It's like working in the presidential cabinet. Jeff Sessions may have been the best attorney general ever (fact check: he wasn't), but he serves at the pleasure of the president, and no matter how erratic or wrong or
misinformed or mean spirited any president may be, it's his or her call.

I've been there as have most of my colleagues and just about every American worker I've ever spoken to. Who ever thinks they're the one doing the bad job at work? But you lose your job when circumstances change, like when profits go down, a new
product line is started, or some idiot invents the internet. Unless you own the business, you serve at the pleasure of the people who do. When I worked at The Chicago Tribune the owners and board made some incredibly stupid decisions that cost all
of us a lot of money, like buying the LA Times and Newsday. Then we lost our jobs. They got bonuses. Did you notice how the bank executives did in the Great Recession and then those staff accountants at Bear Sterns? As long as you play in a market
based society like ours and go to work for a company, you agree to that rule. We all have the choice not to work for that company, which is our precious right and freedom. We then factor in the level of compensation, which can offset to some
degree the inevitable departure. I did get a nice buyout from The Tribune. Thanks for that. But that business additionally has the right to pursue its goals with whomever it chooses no matter the outside perception of the equity or morality.
Management believed it was time for a change. It's the only real expectation in professional sports.

Head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls watches on against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on October 8, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Could the timing of the coaching change be a way to help the tank without the league penalty? The season is basically over for the Bulls. Going full tank seems the best plan. Letting Hoiberg finish the season with a healthy roster just misses the
playoffs and hurts the lottery rankings. Same situation in Cleveland. Keeping Ty Lue as coach helps the record and hurts the tank. This change is just meant to hurt the record.

Jason Ticgelaor

Fred is a good man, but his in game adjustments and schemes didn't evolve enough over the years and the Bulls management saw the same thing I did. Furthermore, the players would simply not compete many nights, I agree with you that talent was lacking but rebuilding teams are usually scrappy. Fred is quite simply a perfect college coach, not enough of a jerk for the NBA.

Sundeep Shah

Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets grabs the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 5, 2018 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Can the Bulls go and make a big trade move now? We have a lot of youth and going into the draft again for a 19yr old is not going to help. Lavine, Markkanen and Carter's window is now on decent contracts. Why not go splash and go for Kemba walker? PG is what we need but maybe a more pass first but then again we need points.

Give them: Lopez, Holiday, Our 1st round pick which might be top 5 pick at the moment. Maybe 10th-15 at worst.; Even throw in Dunn! We need a playoff berth this year, not next. We need to acquire via trade and no free agent will come to us with the current mess. MJ meanwhile can stockpile free space and get a first round pick.

Andrew Brown

I thought the plan was to lose, and given that 3 (supposed) starters were out it is surprising that they are even in games. I never understood why they hired Fred... college and the NBA are diametrically opposed. I am not a Fred fan but he still got hosed. If they start:

  • Parker SF
  • Lauri PF
  • Wendel C

I see how on offense it could work. But on defense?

Patrick Eastman

Head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls reacts on the sidelines against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on October 26, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I do not blame Hoiberg for the team's problems, I blame management. They made a wrong hire with Hoiberg. Mistakes happen on management's part, but this was an obvious mistake at the time of his hiring. Then they give him Wade and Rondo for one
season, trade Jimmy, injuries affecting this team for this year, and then expect him to meet expectations? I do not see a winning formula with GarPax in charge. I never saw one with Hoiberg as coach. Boylen seems like a fine pick for the rest of
this year as he is a veteran.

James Phoenix

The basic reason ownership makes coaching changes is they want someone different; simple as that. There are all sorts of stories out there from wanting to change the culture to Hoiberg losing the respect of the team. No one believed he would be
the coach once the team started turning the corner anyway but the timing of the firing seems a bit odd.

Randall Sanders

I confess, I was completely surprised by the firing of Fred Hoiberg this week, especially given the injury epidemic that has sidelined so many of the team's top performers.

On the other hand, as I read the announcement on Bulls.com, and the comments of my fellow Bulls' fans, I was reminded that there's a lot we fans don't see. John Paxson cited competitive issues in the firing. I suspect some of the evidence of that
was found in team practices, but Jim Boylen's comments about defensive rebounding rang a bell with me. I've been amazed at how often the team has been out-rebounded by opponents, and how often the margins are obscene. I've been wondering if that's
a product of guys like Jabari and Wendell being so focused on defending their man that they are a half-step slow in getting rebounding position, but now we'll see if improvement can come through harder work.

I guess what bothered me most of all was the many comments from fans criticizing Gar and Pax for their management of the team and the roster. To me, I think they're managing the rebuild of the team about as well as it can be managed. Nobody
rebuilds in a year or two, not the teams that aspire to championships, anyway. I'd hate to see an ill-informed mob of fans and self-appointed "experts" in the media run these guys out of town before they have a decent chance to finish
the job.

Kirk Landers

Coach Randy Brown of the Bulls writes on his clipboard during a game against the Dallas Mavericks on July 8, 2017 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Randy Brown won championships with the Bulls. So I understand fully why he would step down after Fred Hoiberg got fired/Jim Boylen became new head coach. Whatever Jim was offering, Randy wasn't agreeing with.

Kieron Smith

Though it's common for every new coach coming in to bring in new staff close to him or her. Boylen actually was willing to keep all the Bulls assistants, at least for now. I don't know if any lack of regard was the situation, and I have been there
myself, watching others promoted or getting better assignments and being upset. You often have to stand way back to realize how good your job is to accept what you regard as inappropriate treatment of the moment. Though there's also a case to be
made that you undervalue yourself if you don't fight for what you believe you deserve. And then the Catch-22 logic in that that if you are the kind of person who would accept that, then maybe you aren't the kind of achiever your company may want.
Life's choices are never very clear. I didn't speak with Randy, but others who have indicated he is satisfied he did what was best for him. He certainly has the resume to remain in the NBA.

Jabari Parker #2 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball against the Indiana Pacers on December 4, 2018 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

My main Bulls cause is patience with Jabari, and relax on the draft hype. I actually think those are entwined. It's clear that Jabari isn't totally back into shape. It's clear he goes off script and will disregard his teammates while trying to
take things into his own hands. It's clear this is a problem. But I also think it's clear he's getting better. The same way Zach did after his ACL. I'm frustrated/surprised at the idea that a guy with so much to prove would come into the season
still needing to get into better shape, especially one that carries the obvious chip on his shoulder he shows during interviews.

Jabari has been a star his whole life. More than any player on this roster. I guarantee you he doesn't think anything has changed from college to now. He obviously sees himself as a star. I like it. If I was a reporter I'd hold him to it. If he
gets pissy about reporters critiquing him so much the obvious response is, "but don't we all agree that you're a top 2 pick?" Let him keep that chip on his shoulder. Some people need that anger to drive them.

I also said the Jabari situation was entwined with the draft. The Duke trio is obviously the most fun to consider, headed by star player Zion Williamson. I feel one thing that hasn't been talked enough is how similar Jabari was to Zion as going
into the draft. Zion seems definitely more powerful than Jabari was at that age, but he still was an undersized fringe forward that dominated college with great basketball IQ and strong overall game but scouts worried may not have an obvious fit
in the NBA. I'm cheering for both these guys, but I just want people to consider that Jabari was that beloved prospect just a few years ago. And he went to Duke too. I just don't know how people can hate Jabari so much and then in the same
sentence say 'Zion will save us.'

Dustin Chaviano

Bobby Portis #5 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during the game against the Houston Rockets on November 3, 2018 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Certainly it will be some time for the Fred firing and Boylen appointment dust to settle but I would like your current view on the probability of a Portis trade before the deadline. I have been a Portis fan from the beginning. He has developed
nicely and Gar/Pax state he is part of their "core". However, I think it's doubtful the Bulls would pay up for a sixth man at this time in the rebuild when he would most probably command a starter's salary and position with another team.
He was never really a center/5 and the power forward slot is filled with Lauri and Carter thinks/states he is also a 4 and then there is Porter. A contending team could have an injury at the position and Portis then becomes more appealing. He
might not command a ton in trade, maybe a little more in a Lopez/Holiday type expiring salary package, but something is better than nothing if the Bulls don't/can't resign him.

John Petersen

Kris Dunn #32 of the Chicago Bulls watches from the bench as teammates take on the Toronto Raptors at United Center on November 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

I heard Dunn and Portis are returning soon. Do you think they are a decent team with everyone healthy?

Ashok Nagella

I can see both Dunn and Portis playing this weekend. Perhaps not both games, but each at least one and then another tuneup game Monday before the trip to Mexico City for the game with Orlando, which is an East surprise later next
week. The Bulls with everyone healthy seem like an East playoff team. Dunn, LaVine, who is playing like a near All-Star, Holiday or Parker, Markkanen and Carter Jr., who has been one of the better rookies, stacks up as every bit competitive with
Orlando, Charlotte and Washington, two of whom now are in playoff position. I had the Bulls better than Charlotte and Orlando to start the season, and with that five/six group certainly as good. I know things look bad in a firing, but even with
the amazing G-league lineups they were playing, the Bulls had lost five games by three points or fewer, second most in the league. Though 15 games under .500, where the Bulls are now, is tough to climb out of. Charlotte is currently eighth in the
East on a pace for 38 wins. The Bulls would have to go 33-24 to get to 38 wins. That's about 58 percent winning. It's really not impossible with likely two spots open in the East, and I expect Detroit to join them, making three for about eight
teams. Here they come?

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half at American Airlines Center on December 04, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.

What do you think about the rookie class so far? Comparable to 2003? Luka Doncic has been on a tear this season.

Gorav Raheja

Come on... Dream with me a little.

Boylen left San Antonio the summer after Kawhi landed on Pachulia's foot. Kawhi is an unrestricted free agent next June. The Bulls a strong 3 away from being a contender in a still-shaky East? Come on, admit it. It was meant to be!
 Chris Granner