Jimmy Butler came into the NBA under the old school, hard-line tutelage of Tom Thibodeau — and that fit Butler’s personality. Coach and player got each other.
Coach and the front office did not, so Thibodeau was shown the door and Fred Hoiberg was handpicked out of the college ranks. He was supposed to bring a more modern, motion offense and a more player-friendly style. That didn’t mesh with Butler, who asked Hoiberg to coach him harder and the two had their conflicts (that were part of the chemistry issues with the Bulls).
In a fantastic interview with Michael Pina for Vice, Butler talks about his differences with Hoiberg, and says they were just different people.
“I’m confrontational. I feed off of confrontation. It makes me go. Not everybody’s like that. [Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg] is not that coach, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are different coaching styles and people are gonna say—which is what they did say—’It’s gonna be Jimmy’s team or it’s gonna be Fred’s team.’ Two total opposite ends of the spectrum. They’re either gonna try to win it now or they’re gonna go young. And you see which way they went with it. Completely fine. Yo, it’s y’all’s business. It’s y’all’s organization. It’s cool. And now I’m in Minnesota and couldn’t be happier.”
This summer the Bulls decided to rebuild — Butler was out, Hoiberg is still there. Butler was shipped to up-and-coming Minnesota — coached by Thibodeau.
Hoiberg’s player-friendly style may work well with a veteran team where the players are already proven and driven. Whether it will work with a young team is another question. Whether the GarPax front office can execute a rebuild is the biggest question.