Staying in Fred Hoiberg’s circle of trust is no easy task
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TORONTO — Play well, you stay on the court. Have a few bad moments, the hook will come swiftly.
With just 11 games left in the regular season, this is life for most on the roster not named Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez or Rajon Rondo.
Coach Fred Hoiberg has made it a “show me’’ business model, and wasn’t apologizing for that on Tuesday.
“The guys that are out there playing, the best obviously are going to be the ones out there at the most important time of the game and crunch time,’’ Hoiberg said. “A lot of teams have that set roster, that set rotation. In the last five minutes, they know exactly who’s going to be out there. With a young team, we’ve had different guys step up, so this is the way we’ve kind of gone.”
Hoiberg also won’t commit to the same starting lineup. The latest change came Saturday, when he replaced Nikola Mirotic with Bobby Portis. And he once again went that way against the Raptors.
“Bobby had been playing great, we put him in the starting lineup,’’ Hoiberg said.
“He struggled a few games. Niko was playing well, so we really wanted to change the flow of the team. Get Niko out there with a little more floor spacing with that first unit, and then bring Bobby off the bench.
“Again, [Portis] just brings so much energy, whether he’s making shots or not. He’s going to have some type of impact on the game.’’
While the ever-changing lineup has been confusing to players throughout the season, they now seem to have a grasp of what’s being asked of them.
No one knows that more than Jerian Grant, who has gone from starter to out of the rotation within the last week.
Grant admitted that it’s mentally difficult to play that way, but that’s the reality of having a roster with six players who have two years or less of experience.
“That’s tough,’’ Grant said. “But when you get out there on the court, you’re playing to win.’’
Dwyane Wade, who will miss the remainder of the regular season after dislocating his right elbow last week, continues to text teammates on what they need to do better.
Not that any of the players have been surprised by it.
“What you see from your eyes with players and what they can do better,’’ Wade said. “Giving them the confidence they need and just giving little nuggets from the game. Denzel [Valentine] is going to have a big role. Giving him the nuggets that I can to help him and so on and so forth.
“I don’t do the whole speeches. It’s more so my talk with each individual.’’
Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.