Fred Hoiberg heard the boos throughout the second half of the Bulls’ Game 6 loss to the Celtics on Friday night.
And he caught wind of the “Fire Hoiberg!’’ chants near the end of the game.
“Sure, I understand the frustration,” Hoiberg said. “It was a frustrating game, there’s no doubt about that, to go out this way. The high note to start this series, the way we got out to a 2-0 lead, we couldn’t finish it off. I thought we fought, battled, especially in Game 5 in Boston. We didn’t have it tonight, so I do understand.’’
At least one of his players thought it wasn’t warranted.
“I definitely don’t agree with the chants that were going on in the arena,” veteran guard Dwyane Wade said Saturday. “I definitely believe [Hoiberg] got better throughout this year. And I think you have more a grasp moving forward with what he wants to do with this team. You have to give people a chance.”
All indications are the Bulls will do just that, especially with three more years and $15 million left on Hoiberg’s contract.
The front office believes Hoiberg has made great strides, and his players feel the same way, especially after he went against general manager Gar Forman’s wishes to play point guard Cameron Payne more.
“As I tell Fred, some great coaches have coached this game, but talent is very important,” Wade said. “Talent makes all of us look better. Fred was dealt a young team and a team that didn’t really have an identity. It’s kind of unfair in a second year to get a whole new team and say, ‘OK, be great with it.’ It takes awhile.
“As a young coach, he’s still learning the game and figuring things out himself. And now you’ve got this new team, and everyone wants you to be the Cleveland Cavaliers. I thought as the season went along and I sat back and watched Fred and the coaching staff, they did as good as they could with the hand that was dealt.’’
That’s also why Wade warned the front office that another roster change would not be ideal.
“If you’re going to change this team again next year if he’s coaching here, that’s tough to have a new team each year that you’re coaching,” Wade said. “You want to have some consistency. You want direction. You want the roster that you want, as well.”
View from the middle
After his exit interview, center Robin Lopez said he not only enjoyed his first year with the Bulls, but he thought the organization moved forward.
“I think we saw a lot out of the young guys,” Lopez said. “I think everybody realizes that aside from our top four, we had a pretty young team.
“That said, the playoffs were a great experience for them, I believe. And Bobby [Portis], Zip [Paul Zipser], a lot of them stepped up big-time.’’
Lopez, who is signed through the 2018-19 season, hopes to stay with the team.
“I’m very, very comfortable here,” Lopez said. “I love the city, I love it as a sports town, I love it culturally. I’m really enjoying myself here.”