Fred Hoiberg says relationship with Jimmy Butler is ‘very good’

SHARE Fred Hoiberg says relationship with Jimmy Butler is ‘very good’
SHARE Fred Hoiberg says relationship with Jimmy Butler is ‘very good’

HOUSTON – Underachievement and trade speculation go hand in hand in the NBA.

The Bulls continued to find that out this week, as there was yet another national report that opposing teams would again try to make a run at Jimmy Butler this offseason, sensing that the relationship between the two-time All-Star and coach Fred Hoiberg was damaged.

That all seemed news to Hoiberg on Thursday, who reiterated Butler’s importance to the franchise moving forward, and called the idea about their relationship being rocky “completely false.’’

“That’s not the reality at all,’’ Hoiberg said. “Again, Jimmy and I have a very good relationship. Obviously I have a lot of trust in Jimmy, putting the ball in his hands late in games to help us go out and finish games. I communicate with Jimmy as much as anyone on this team, and again, I think very highly of him for what he’s done with his game over the course of his career. I’ve always been a fan of his, and again, yeah, completely false.’’

Butler publicly criticized Hoiberg back in December, letting it be known that he needed to coach harder and hold players more accountable, but the two have worked on the relationship. While sources have indicated that it is by no means perfect, it has improved.

From a talent standpoint, while the Bulls are expected to be prepared to move on from both Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah in free agency, the goal is to keep the starting backcourt intact. Obviously, a megadeal could change all that for either Butler or Derrick Rose, but Hoiberg sounded like a coach that has Butler in the core moving forward.

“Well, I haven’t heard anything about that,’’ Hoiberg said of the Butler talk. “I obviously think the world of [Butler] for how hard he pushes himself and how much he just has improved his game over the years with his work ethic. I think that rubs off on the other guys. So Jimmy is absolutely a very important part to this team.’’

Hoiberg also revealed that while Butler was still recovering from the left knee injury that cost him over a month, he’s also dealing with back and other leg injuries.

“He’s out there fighting through it, battling through it,’’ Hoiberg said. “He understands everything that’s at stake right now. He’s not going to leave his teammates out to dry.’’

Good news on Gasol

While Gasol’s right knee issues aren’t going away anytime soon, there has been improvement. That’s why the veteran’s minutes have increased the last few games.

“He’s beat up,’’ Hoiberg said of Gasol. “But he’s getting better. The knee doesn’t swell up like it was initially after the injury occurred. We’ve upped his minutes. I think he’s been more effective now that we’re playing him for 10 consecutive minutes as opposed to five or six when he initially came back. I’d say Pau feels good but he’s nowhere near 100 percent.’’

The Latest
After our long period of COVID-19 isolation, we have vicariously enjoyed the idea of a free-running animal weighing 1,300 pounds staking out her own turf.
A 22-year-old man was attempting to enter the park in the first block of East Monroe Street but he refused to be checked for weapons at the entry point, police said.
Zalatoris hit the ball on the button whether he was in the fairway or the rough, running off three straight birdies in gentler afternoon conditions for a 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead over Mito Pereira of Chile.
Rising interest rates, high inflation, the war in Ukraine, and a slowdown in China’s economy are all punishing stocks and raising fears about a possible U.S. recession.