“A lot” of Bulls reportedly don’t believe in Fred Hoiberg.
But that’s not Chicago’s only interpersonal problem.
Jimmy Butler is at the heart of another.
Chemistry issues continue to plague the Bulls’ locker room, league sources told The Vertical. Grumblings range from Hoiberg’s inability to hold players accountable – a complaint registered publicly by Butler last December and one that lingers in the locker room today, a source said – to Butler’s shoddy shot selection to the disconnect within the team offensively.
The Bulls’ offensive backslide has been one of the more surprising developments of the season. Hoiberg was supposed to instill a more dynamic, up-tempo offense after Tom Thibodeau’s grind-it-out scheme. But Chicago has fallen from 10th to 27th in points per possession.
The Bulls are playing faster – just not effectively. They’re awful finishing at the rim, and they don’t get to the line. In some ways, this is the productive of trying to play a scheme that requires better athletes when an athletically depleted Derrick Rose and 35-year-old Pau Gasol lead the team in shots per minute.
So why does Butler get the blame?
He’s assuming a bigger role on a team that still has its longtime leaders. That hasn’t always been well-received.
Sure, Butler sometimes forces bad shots, but it’s hardly egregious. The Bulls score slightly better with him on the court.
This strikes me as teammates resenting Butler’s rise to stardom. To be fair, he hasn’t always handled his ascent perfectly. But it seems easier to blame Chicago’s offensive problems on his shot selection if you’re too keen on blaming Butler first then finding a reason.
Still, the Bulls believing this is a real problem makes this a real problem. They haven’t looked happy much on the court as they’ve slipped out of playoff position, and that unhappiness makes it more difficult for them to regain ground. These things snowball.
If Chicago hasn’t solved these problems by this point in the season, it might be too late. It’d be tough for a cohesive team that’s two games out of playoff position this late to reach the postseason.
It’ll apparently be even more difficult for the Bulls.