LAS VEGAS – Fred Hoiberg knows that perception is still out there.
He can punch all the dry boards and drop all the curse words that he wants behind closed doors, but it’s still going to follow him around.
The idea that the second-year Bulls coach is somewhat soft on his players started last season – courtesy of Jimmy Butler’s comments last December, thank you very much – and was still alive and well with the start of Summer League play this week in Sin City.
So of course when the Bulls added the fiery Rajon Rondo, as well as Dwyane Wade recently, Hoiberg knew his critics would instantly question his ability to coach three players that have their share of diva in them.
And while it bothers him that his kindness can be mistaken for weakness, he’s had enough of trying to explain himself on that topic.
“Honestly, I don’t think about that stuff,’’ Hoiberg said on Saturday. “I’ve got a job to do, to put the guys on the floor in the best position and win basketball games. That’s all I can do.’’
That is all he can do.
How he’s going to do it? Well, let’s call that a work in progress for Hoiberg.
While Hoiberg couldn’t mention Wade by name until the veteran guard’s two-year, $47.5 million deal is official, he admittedly is trying to figure out how his offense based on decision making and outside shooting can be tweaked to accommodate ball-dominant players like Wade, Rondo and Jimmy Butler.
Heck, it was clunky with just two last year in Derrick Rose and Butler, and now Hoiberg’s front office has gift-wrapped him three players that sink into hero ball.
“As a staff, we’re in the process of watching a lot of film, going back to how certain teams played when certain players were on the floor,’’ Hoiberg said, when asked how he planned to make the Bulls offense work. “I played on a team in Minnesota with Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell. You had three guys who could go get you a bucket at any time. Depending on what the matchup was, that’s who we went to. It worked.
“It was a little shaky at first. I think we were .500 after 20 games. But once we figured it out, we really took off. The thing I’m really excited with our team next year is the amount of playmakers we’re going to have. That’s what the offense is all about, having guys who can get in the paint and spray it out. We still will try to get as much shooting on the floor as we can. But I’m excited about this team.’’
Hoiberg and the Bulls seem to be in the minority.
What’s nice about Summer League is all the opposing scouts, coaches and players sitting in the stands of the COX Pavilion. The most asked question by far was “What are the Bulls doing?’’
With good reason.
Both VP of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman insisted they would do everything they could to help Hoiberg grow as a coach, but yet all of these moves seem to stunt his growth.
At least publicly, Hoiberg doesn’t see it that way.
“I think that’s what coaching is all about is to figure out what the best system is based on the talent of your players,’’ Hoiberg said. “It’s about molding your system and philosophy to who’s going to be on the floor and hopefully play unselfishly. It’s still predicated on ball movement. And again if you have multiple playmakers, that helps everybody.’’