Fred Hoiberg needs to continue working on communication skills

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NEW YORK – By all accounts, season two of the Fred Hoiberg experience has seen improvements.

Bulls VP of basketball operations John Paxson said last summer that he wanted to see the former Iowa State coach continue to grow into his NBA britches, and he seems to have taken those strides.


The communication department with players? Well, there still seems to be an issue there.

Last season, it was Joakim Noah and a he-said, he-said between the veteran big man and Hoiberg.

It was late in the 2015-16 preseason when Hoiberg announced that Noah would come off the bench rather than be a starter.

He passed it off as, “Jo actually came to me and talked to me about that,’’ when discussing how that decision went down.

Noah flatly denied that he volunteered his services as a bench player, and then it got interesting. Finally, Hoiberg backtracked, passing it off as miscommunication.

“Did [Noah] specifically say, ‘I want to come off the bench?’ No, nobody wants to come off the bench, but you know it’s a decision that we came up with,’’ Hoiberg eventually explained. “He’s been great. He’s been as enthusiastic as anybody over there when he’s not in the game. He’s always going to bring it when he’s on the floor, so no, things are fine.’’

Now enter Rajon Rondo.

First, Rondo was told by his coach that he looked slow last week. Then he was benched for five-plus games until coming off the bench in the Tuesday loss against Washington, but insisted that Hoiberg never really gave him a detailed explanation.

“Um. How can I say this? No,’’ Rondo said, when asked if Hoiberg detailed the circumstances of the benching.

“I got a slight explanation from another guy on the staff. A guy told me that he was saving me from myself.’’

Hoiberg was asked several times if he has given Rondo that detailed explanation, and was very vague in his response.

“I’ve talked to him about it,’’ Hoiberg said. “The biggest thing we talked about is how he’s handled it. He’s handled it great.’’

Not exactly the type of explanation that clears up things, and maybe that’s something that Hoiberg has to really work on.

“Hmmm,’’ Taj Gibson said, when asked if communication between coach and players needed to improve in the Bulls locker room. “In any work place you want to communicate with your bosses, you want to be able to communicate with the higher ups. You know what I’m saying. It’s hard for me to speak on because I don’t know the severity of what went on with Rondo, but that’s between Rondo and the head coach.

“The one thing I can say about Rondo and this whole situation is he’s handled this all like an absolute professional.’’

That why not one teammate was bothered by Rondo making it known to the front office that if his current situation doesn’t change he wants to be elsewhere.

“Of course that’s going to happen,’’ Gibson said. “When you have an All-Star guard that feels like he still has the potential to help a team win. He came here to play games and help this team make the playoffs, so we understand that frustration when the team is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing and he’s on the bench.’’

NOTE: According to the Bulls, Nikola Mirotic (illness) was sent back to Chicago, while Jimmy Butler (illness) remained in Chicago. Both were expected to miss the game against the New York Knicks.

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