“I still got respect for him,” Butler said, according to ESPN. “I think that he’s holding me accountable for everything. He talked to me whenever I was low energy last game, and I fixed it. That’s the type of guy he is. He has the utmost confidence in me because he continually put the ball in my hand when he didn’t have to.”
After losing to the New York Knicks on Dec. 19, Butler said he thought Hoiberg needed to coach the team “a lot harder,” which invited dialogue on the Bulls’ difficulty adjusting to their new coach. But after scoring 28 points on Wednesday to secure the 102–100 victory over the Pacers, Butler said he and Hoiberg had been working on getting to know each other.
“I think we’re both learning a lot about each other,” Butler said. “He’s probably learning how moody I am on a daily basis, to tell you the truth. And it’s hard, but I think he lets me be who I am. He handles everything that I do very well. I’m not a big communicator, I’m not great at it, but he’s always talking to me. He’s always asking, ‘How are you doing? What can we do?’ He’s always asking my opinion on a lot of things. Yeah, it helped a lot.”
Two days after Butler’s original comments, Hoiberg worked out the Bulls three days in a row before their Christmas Day matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, an unusual move for a coach who values rest and off-days. Hoiberg told the Chicago Sun-Times that he believed the perception he was being too easy on his players was part of his motivation to push them to prepare for the eventual 105–96 win.
The Bulls have now won three of their last four games and will host the Knicks in Chicago on Friday.
- Erin Flynn