Fred Hoiberg gave Bulls guard Zach LaVine freedom to do whatever he wanted
The mysterious firing of head coach Fred Hoiberg has brought along plenty of questions surrounding his dismissal by the Chicago Bulls. While judgment points to a porous 5-19 record as enough reason to part ways with the former NBA-player-turned-coach, a report by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explains his no-leash policy with Zach LaVine could have been the start of his doom.
Fred Hoiberg reportedly would allow players to talk back to him without any repercussions, a trend that extended from players that tried to forge a niche in the NBA, to the best player in the team.
“At one point during a mid-November game at Milwaukee, guard Antonio Blakeney took exception to Hoiberg subbing him out and asked, in what team sources say was a show of rebellion, “Why the f**k are you taking me out?”
His query was posed loudly in front of the team bench. Hoiberg later re-inserted him without reproach, sources said. Two weeks later, Blakeney mysteriously was supplanted in the rotation by Cameron Payne, whose inconsistency caused him to slip from emergency starter to third-stringer. Blakeney, remember, is not a high-prized lottery pick. He’s the reigning G-League Rookie of the Year clawing to stay in the league. If he can get away with that, what could Zach LaVine pull?
The answer is anything he wanted, according to a team source who said LaVine was given carte blanche by Hoiberg.”
Zach LaVine is only 23 years old and already being given free rein to do what he wants, likely feeling on top of the world after receiving a four-year, $78 million extension of his rookie contract.
That validation only explains the scoring rampage LaVine has put on early in the season, constantly allowed to take 20-plus shots (has done so in 12 of the team’s 24 games) despite being a mediocre shooter from the floor (43.8 percent) and from deep (30.7 percent).
That free rein caused other players to further defy Fred Hoiberg’s authority, causing a chain reaction that nearly resulted in mutiny.
“Internally, there was concern players would revolt more as the season marched on, with the defiance manifesting itself in numerous ways, be it players taking ill-advised shots or talking out of turn,” wrote Mayberry.
Hoiberg’s position with the team was already in shaky grounds after failing to provide results, but losing the locker room is career suicide for a head coach in this league, something that obviously reflected in poor outings against different teams through the early get-go.