Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler said after Saturday’s loss to the Knicks that he thought the team could probably afford to be coached harder on occasion.
“I believe in the guys in this locker room but I also believe we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times,” Butler said, as reported by Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. “I’m sorry, I know Fred is a laid-back guy and I really respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you have to get on guys—myself included.”
Butler continued, via the Chicago-Sun Times’s Joe Cowley:
“It’s on everybody. But I just think when it's coming from [Hoiberg] it’s a lot different. It's different when a player is telling another player, and a coach is telling a player. I know it’s really not in him like that, but I think at times that’s what we need.”
“It’s not even about being coached a certain way for five years,” Butler continued, when the name of former coach Tom Thibodeau was brought up. “It’s about making everybody do their job. We weren’t doing what we were supposed to be doing, what we wrote up on that [locker room] board before the game, and nobody spoke up about it. I did, probably not enough times, but I think [Hoiberg] has to hold everybody accountable, from the number one player to however many guys we got. Everyone has to do their job.”
“Basketball is basketball,” Butler said, when asked about the transition from Thibodeau to Hoiberg being a difficult one. “Players are going to play the game. But it’s different. I’m not going to say it’s not.”
Bulls center Joakim Noah expressed a different opinion after the game, saying that he didn’t think the Bulls could be coached any harder.
“Do I think that we can get coached harder? Naw,” Noah said, according to Kuc.
Butler’s comments are interesting, considering Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix tweeted that the Bulls are having trouble in their transition to Hoiberg.
Jimmy Butler going public with something that's been whispered privately in Chicago: Bulls aren't connecting yet w/Hoiberg's easygoing style— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) December 20, 2015
Hoiberg, a former Bulls guard, is in his first season as an NBA head coach after arriving from Iowa State in the off-season to replace Tom Thibodeau. The latter, currently without a coaching job, was known for his hard-driving, intense style and dedication to preparation during his five seasons in Chicago. The Bulls were 255–139 in the regular season under Thibodeau and made the playoffs all five times, reaching the conference finals once and semifinals twice.
After inheriting almost the exact same roster as last season, Hoiberg has the Bulls at 15–10. Chicago entered the game in New York after a quadruple-overtime loss to Detroit on Friday night, in which Butler scored a career-high 43 points in 56 minutes. Derrick Rose logged 54 minutes and Pau Gasol, 48. The 35-year-old Gasol rested Saturday night. After the game Friday, Hoiberg expressed regret over not calling a timeout at the end of the second overtime that could potentially have gotten the Bulls a better go-ahead shot attempt.
With Saturday’s loss to the Knicks, now 14–14, the Bulls have dropped consecutive games following a four-game winning streak.