Bulls’ coaching staff once again is coming under scrutiny

MINNEAPOLIS — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg thought the concerns about his leadership had been put to rest.

Remember, his own vice president of basketball operations, John Paxson, question his leadership at the end of last season.

Hoiberg clearly wasn’t thrilled about Paxson’s comments, met with him for a ‘‘long conversation’’ the next day and walked out of the room ‘‘on the same page,’’ he said.

Hoiberg’s coaching ability came under fire again Friday.

Forward Taj Gibson, who left the Bulls on good terms when he was traded to the Thunder last season and now is with the Timberwolves, was asked about Hoiberg as a coach. He was asked to compare Hoiberg with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who now is running the Timberwolves.

‘‘You have to be a leader whether you have veterans or young guys,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘You have to just be a strong leader and have to have a strong belief in yourself because things may go wrong. You have to demand the attention of the locker room.

‘‘From Day 1 when I was in Chicago, Thibs came in there like, ‘Listen.’ He had the mentality like you respected him, and if it didn’t go like that, he would square up with you, and guys respected that. I think a lot of coaches around the league, maybe sometimes they’re young and it’s tough on them. Thibs has been around the league a long time, so he had years to mold himself to be ready for that position. Fred just came from college, and he was thrown in there to be a head coach.

‘‘A lot of guys just thrown in there to be a head coach, they may be great at X’s and O’s or great offensive guys, but you’re being thrown in there with guys you might have even played against. It’s a big difference.’’

It’s not the only difference, either.

Players who were carry-overs from the Thibodeau years privately complained about the lack of attention to detail with the new coaching staff, specifically on defense. That’s no knock on Hoiberg, especially because assistant Jim Boylen was brought over from the Spurs to handle the defense.

The criticism of Boylen was that the defense had no philosophy and changed from game to game.

The real stinger? One player suggested the games that went smoothly on defense were because the Bulls relied on Thibodeau’s old material. Gibson didn’t dispute that.

‘‘Not just myself, but other guys felt like once [Thibodeau] left, the details weren’t on point sometimes,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘The details were on the money with Thibs. And I always ask myself: ‘Why does he always stay in the hotel room so long? What is he doing in that room?’ Then it all comes back to me that he’s really in that hotel room coming out with different [ideas].

‘‘I just felt like when he left, that was a big part — and not just for myself but other members of the team — we really lacked. We really lacked a lot of countering. A lot of guys were just going through the motions of, ‘If they beat us this way, how can we counter it?’ ’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com


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