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Bulls fire coach Fred Hoiberg, name Jim Boylen as replacement

Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg questions a call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. | Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

In a surprise move, the Bulls on Monday fired coach Fred Hoiberg and named associate head coach Jim Boylen, who joined the Bulls in June 2015, as his replacement.

The Sun-Times has learned that Hoiberg was caught off guard. According to one source, Hoiberg believed he would have the chance to coach a fully healthy team before being evaluated, which the Sun-Times reported Sunday. Bobby Portis (right knee) and Kris Dunn (left knee), who are expected to return within the two weeks, would’ve allowed Hoiberg to coach the team he had worked with this summer.

In the second season of the the Bulls’ rebuild, they’re 5-19 with key players such as Lauri Markkanen, Dunn and Portis out with injuries. Markkanen played his first game of the season Saturday in a 16-point loss to the Houston Rockets.

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Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said the decision to fire Hoiberg was the “right choice” at this time.

“After a thorough evaluation, I elected to make this move with the overall development of our team in mind,” Paxson said in a statement. “As a team, I believe it is imperative that we make unfaltering strides in the right direction and build the right habits to help put our players in the best position to evolve not only now, but into the future. I want to thank Fred for his dedication and efforts, as well as for his enduring commitment to our team.”

According to a source close to Hoiberg, he is initially not looking to get back into the college coaching game. The source said Hoiberg wants another crack at the NBA.

One place to watch is if the Minnesota Timberwolves move on from coach Tom Thibodeau. Hoiberg, who was Thibodeau’s successor with the Bulls, was an assistant general manager with the Timberwolves for three seasons and is well liked up there.

The Bulls signed Hoiberg in 2015 to a five-year, $25 million contract. Under Hoiberg’s control, the Bulls went 115-155 and made a playoff appearance in 2017 before being ousted by the Boston Celtics in six games.

Before his Bulls stint, Hoiberg coached five seasons at Iowa State, leading the Cyclones to the Sweet 16 in 2014.

Boylen has 33 years of coaching experience, including 20 seasons in the NBA.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.