Sources: Bulls GM Gar Forman was the main force behind Fred Hoiberg’s firing
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The Fred Hoiberg firing continues to take on a life of its own, especially under the national-media microscope.
The facile storyline is that Hoiberg lost the locker room even though players — Bobby Portis being the latest Saturday — continue to shoot that angle down.
But management has let that perception become reality — with good reason.
Multiple sources say Hoiberg didn’t lose the locker room; the problem was his relationship with general manager Gar Forman.
According to sources, Hoiberg was approached by several key players, including Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, during the 2016-17 playoff season and told that they didn’t want Forman around or as part of the traveling party because they didn’t trust him.
According to one player, Forman was even trying to draw up plays for the team “that looked straight out of some high school [expletive], man.’’
Wanting to do right by his players, Hoiberg took the complaints above Forman. When Forman heard about it, he wanted to remove Hoiberg from his post immediately.
Coincidentally, it was during that time that Forman was no longer around the team like he had been in the past, and he also stopped being the public face with the media.
Forman was dissuaded from following through, especially with the amount of money still owed to Hoiberg, but the feeling was that he was just waiting for the right opportunity to push the button.
It came last weekend, even blindsiding Hoiberg with the timing.
Hoiberg realized he was under scrutiny, but at least he would have Lauri Markkanen (right elbow) back as well as Kris Dunn (left knee) and Portis (right knee).
But vice president of basketball operations John Paxson insisted the team was lacking “spirit and energy.’’
Zach LaVine said Tuesday that he thought the spirit was fine, and Portis reiterated that before the Bulls’ 133-77 loss to the Celtics.
“I don’t think we lost our spirit,’’ Portis said. “When you’re going through a tough stretch, losing four, five, six games in a row, obviously it’s hard. Think about it, it’s hard to win in this league, especially being a young team, so it’s hard to be in games, and it becomes a loss.
“Obviously, I feel like everybody in this locker room respected Fred and who he was. He’s a players’ coach, lets guys go out there and do what they do, get better. Me, personally, he helped me develop my game a lot, so I credit a lot of things toward him. To say that he lost the respect of the locker room, I don’t think that’s a good way to put it.’’
Even new coach Jim Boylen refuted the notion that Hoiberg had lost the locker room.
“I don’t believe that he lost the locker room,’’ Boylen said. “I do believe that I’m handling the locker room differently.
“It doesn’t mean better, worse, whatever. We’re different people. Fred and I are very close and spent a lot of time together, and I’m going to miss that relationship. But I’ve got a job to do. The Reinsdorfs have given me this responsibility, and I think Fred understands that. Is it raw right now? It’s raw, man. It’s really raw, but I’ve got a job to do. You don’t think I’m not thinking about it?’’