PHILADELPHIA – Fred Hoiberg has maintained since the beginning of the regular season that the starting lineup was a fluid situation.
Further evidence of that was offered up on Monday.
Following the morning shoot-around, the first-year Bulls coach declared that the starting lineup would go unchanged, meaning that Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose would get the nod.
But prior to tip-off it was announced that Joakim Noah would start over Mirotic. That lasted about 30 minutes, as Noah tweaked his surgically-repaired left knee and was scratched from the game.
It was actually a good time for Hoiberg to try something new, considering Mirotic was shooting just 22 percent from the field over his last four games, but the Noah injury has put that on hold for the time being.
Hoiberg has been no stranger to tinkering with the rotation, first making the switch from Noah to Mirotic late in the preseason. Then last week, it was Doug McDermott getting the nod over Tony Snell.
“When you do make a change, like when we made the change with Tony and Doug, it wasn’t a demotion for Tony,’’ Hoiberg said. “It was for matchups, especially that particular game against Oklahoma City [last Thursday].
“You’re always thinking about it, and again, when you’ve had some inconsistencies you continue to put that through your thoughts and try and process everything. Try to do what’s best for the team. I think we talked about this in the preseason. It’s probably not going to be completely set in stone for a while.’’
The more pressing question for Hoiberg, however, was growing concerns that he could start sending a message to his players that the rookie coach was still searching.
According to Hoiberg, the best remedy for that remained communication.
“I think the biggest thing is communicating with them, and if you talk to them and keep that communication open, I think that’s the most important thing,’’ Hoiberg said.
Derrick Rose is starting to lean toward wearing the protective mask throughout the rest of the season, even when his double-vision clears up.
“I mean for right now it seems like it’s the whole season,’’ Rose said. “It was too painful, man. Like I never want to go through that again. So if I’ve got to wear it the whole season, I’ll wear it. The mask is not a problem. It’s just that my vision is messed up right now.’’
Kirk Hinrich missed his fifth game with a toe injury on Monday, but continued to say that he was getting closer. The Bulls don’t play their next game until Friday, so he’ll have three more days to get ready. The 34-year-old veteran has played just five minutes total since the start of the regular season.