The Fred Hoiberg Era isn’t exactly starting smoothly.
When the first-year Bulls coach meets with the media Monday afternoon to kick off training camp, rather than focus on his high-octane “Hoi-ball’’ offense and how it will translate into the NBA game, the questions will focus around an offseason that was less than calm.
There’s a lawsuit hanging over the head of the face of the franchise in Derrick Rose, an unclear return date for top reserve Taj Gibson (ankle surgery), and now the news on Friday that veteran starting small forward Mike Dunleavy had back surgery and could miss the next eight-to-10 weeks.
Meanwhile, the front office can still try and say all they want to downplay the dismissal of former coach Tom Thibodeau after last season, but like it or not, they will fall under even more scrutiny based on how Hoiberg can handle all of the obstacles that have already been set in his way with the start of the 2015-16 training camp.
From the day Hoiberg was hired, he has insisted that he was equipped for the rocky road that is life in the NBA. That’s about to be tested.
“I’m not coming into this never having experienced NBA basketball,’’ Hoiberg insisted on several occasions.
Ten years as an NBA player – including four years with the Bulls – and four years in the front office of the Minnesota Timberwolves is his resume, as well as resurrecting an Iowa State basketball program as a coach before the Bulls grabbed him up.
Then again, Chicago isn’t exactly Ames, Iowa – population just under 62,000.
“He was part of the NBA, he studied the NBA, and then had great, great success at Iowa State,’’ Bulls general manager Gar Forman said of Hoiberg hire. “I’m a firm believer, obviously there’s some differences in the rules, X’s and O’s, but coaching is coaching. A big part of coaching is the human element. Getting guys to buy in, to play together, to play hard, to accept roles, and you put them in a right system. I know we have confidence that Fred’s going to be able to do that.’’
For the start of camp, short-handed. But not all is gloomy for the Bulls. Everyone surrounding Rose has indicated that the point guard was finally injury free and had a stellar summer getting his body ready for what needs to be a bounce-back year.
Then there’s the continued emergence of two-guard Jimmy Butler, who always seems to spend summers cleaning up the perceived holes in his game.
Add Pau Gasol again coming off solid play in international ball, as well as Joakim Noah using social media to point out how healthy he and his injured left knee feel, and well, like Thibodeau used to say, “We have more than enough.’’
But all eyes will be on Hoiberg to harness that and make it work within his much-hyped offense.
“[At Iowa State] we had the second fastest pace of play in all of college basketball last year,’’ Hoiberg said. “We like to get out and play with pace and play with spacing. I think we ran more pick-and-roll than anybody in college basketball last year. We really like to flow into an offense as opposed to coming down and getting set on every possession. It’s something that has always been my philosophy.
“I know what this league’s all about and that’s the guys. I’m here to do everything I can to support them, work with them and hopefully bring this group to where we’re competing for a world championship.’’