Replacing Phil Math: 10 Victims and Counting

Since the Bulls and Phil Jackson parted ways in 1998, the Bulls have had ten head coaches. There was the forgettable, miserable and simply unwatchable Tim Floyd days. Bill Berry had a short two game coaching tryout before Bill Cartwright took over. Cartwright lasted longer than most thought he would. He survived a training camp and a full 82 game schedule and then he was replaced by Scott Skiles who did a few nice things on the defensive end before getting the heave-ho. Enter Vinny Del Negro and a young Derrick Rose. Vinny wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t remarkable.

Then Tom Thibodeau came to town and the Bulls had the best record in the East, Rose was the youngest MVP in league history, and it looked like finally the Phil Jackson zen thing had been buried for the better. The Bulls were stepping into a new generation and the MJ ghost was dead. Until Rose couldn’t keep his knee from breaking and Thibs ran players into the ground. He was fired because Gar Forman and John Paxson had a great idea to hire a coach who had never coached professionally before.

Fred Hoiberg was once a teammate of Kevin Garnett. He played in the Western Conference Finals. He was the anti-Thibs, introducing pace and three point shot making and a lot of fun after joy-less Thibs drained all the happiness out the room.

Three seasons later, he was fired as a thank you for nothing, enjoy Christmas on your way out.

The firing is particularly divorced from reality. The Bulls were injured. The team wasn’t really the team. Lauri Markkanen, who played his first game over the weekend, was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade. Markkanen is a nice player but needs a lot of development and just got healthy. The Bulls best player returns and then the coach is fired now that he has his full compliment of players. It makes sense in a Bulls world.

What doesn’t make sense are their organizational moves. They traded for Cameron Payne believing he was going to be the point guard of the future. There was a reason he didn’t play in OKC. Payne is what you would call a bust. How about these stats for a 6-3 lottery pick guard: 26% from three, 39% overall. The more he plays, the worse he is.

The Bulls gave Zach LaVine more money than he deserved. LaVine is a scorer but he can’t be your best player. He guards his position when he feels like it which is almost never. Yeah, he can put up 25 but taking 20 shots a game. His three ball is 30%. But he keeps jacking almost 6 threes a game when he’s making 32% of his jumpers. But more to the point, LaVine has a lot of cocky I’m a closer swag but the numbers tell the story. He’s shooting 34% and 20% on threes at the end of quarters.

While they were handing out money, local hero Jabari Parker had his hand out and the Bulls did what the Bucks refused to do. Overpay a player who had two ACL surgeries. Parker isn’t what the Bulls thought. He doesn’t stretch the floor, is abysmal at threes, and drains jumphsots like LaVine, meaning a lot of bricks, though Parker can be trusted at the end of quarters.

The problem with overpaying LaVine and Parker is they hurt flexibility when Markkanen is developed enough that the Bulls can actually make a free agent pitch to someone who matters. Did I mention the Bulls don’t have a point guard?

These are numbers that get the coach fired.

28th In scoring. 24th in 3-point shooting. 26th in scoring percentage. Last in offensive rebounding. 22nd in blocks. 24th in scoring defense.

And so Fred Hoiberg is victim number 10. Predictable. Expected. The coach is the fall guy despite last season at this same exact 24 game time the Bulls were 4-20, one game worse then they are now.

Insanity is expecting different results when you do the same old thing. Not to call names but someone or a bunch of someones  running things need a Chicago reality check. Michael Jordan and a young Derrick Rose are not walking through United Center doors.

This is what grim looks like.