BOSTON – Missteps have been made.
Jimmy Butler once again admitted that on Tuesday, following a Bulls practice at Emerson College.
Not just with his words, either.
There was the two-time All-Star – and self-proclaimed best wide receiver not currently playing in the NFL – catching a football from head coach Fred Hoiberg in the basement practice gym.
Yes, the same Fred Hoiberg that many outsiders assumed had difficulties coaching Butler last season.
“Maybe I judged somebody too quickly last year, but I know he’s here, he’s working, and that’s all you can ask,’’ Butler said of Hoiberg following a few well-thrown receptions.
A much different take than he had last season, when it was Butler who declared that Hoiberg needed to “coach harder.’’
And the two didn’t need a game of catch with a football to get on that same page.
“When you work, everyone is going to go to war for you,’’ Butler said. “Oh yeah, he’s definitely changed for the better. I look at him a lot differently, as well. It seems like he knows his guys a lot better now, which is great. Look at him joke around with us if you were in the locker room after games or before games, throwing the football, it’s the littlest things that go the longest. Now we know that he’s in the fight with us, he’s one of us.’’
While Butler didn’t come out and apologize for at least making life a bit more difficult for his then-rookie coach last year, he also went on to say that like players can do in the offseason, coaches can also get better. The way he sees it Hoiberg fits that description.
“Yeah, I think that everybody can always get better, whether you’re watching film, whether you’re getting to know your players and where they like the ball on the floor, drawing up plays to get guys going to their left or to their right, or to shoot the ball here, that’s all part of knowing the game, knowing your players, which is the coach’s job just as much as the players’ job as well,’’ Butler said.
Which brings us to last year. While this season’s 3-0 start for the Bulls is impressive, especially because growing pains were expected from the new-look roster, what is hard for everyone involved to escape is how dysfunctional things actually were last season.
That’s what the 3-0 start has also shown. Changes had to be made, and the likes of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose had to go.
“Yeah, kind of sort of,’’ Butler said, when asked if the old core of players was getting stale. “I think everybody had been playing with one another so long, maybe it was time for a new look for a lot of different guys. Not in a bad way, but sometimes that’s the way it looked and felt out on the court. It’s a new team now. As much as we talk about last year’s team, I think we should start focusing on this year’s team a lot more.’’
While Butler said he wasn’t looking to take shots at last year’s roster, and even thanked them for making him the player he is now, that just wasn’t a group that a player could get close to.
This year’s make-up is.
“Everybody is over at [Dwyane] Wade’s house or my house, not only talking about the game, but just talking about life in general,’’ Butler said. “Because, you know, if you can care about someone’s life off the floor then whenever they get on this floor they’re definitely going to be bought in.’’