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Bulls players finally speak to reporters about coach Fred Hoiberg’s firing

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 24 hours after the Bulls announced the firing of coach Fred Hoiberg, Bulls players finally met with reporters on Tuesday.

Though there was outward support for the former coach who had a year left on his contract, a hesitation on a reply by Lauri Markkanen was revealing.

The second-year player was asked if Hoiberg had control of the locker room, and there was obvious uneasiness as he tried to be honest, but also answer the question fairly.

“It’s hard to say,’’ Markkanen said. “It’s so different. I don’t know. That’s a hard question to ask.’’

He was then told of the importance of the question, and again asked if Hoiberg had control.

“Like you said, sometimes he did, sometimes he . . . nah,’’ Markkanen replied, giving an uncomfortable laugh. “Obviously, players take care of themselves. We talked about different stuff in the locker room. But I don’t think we talked about coach’s decisions and stuff like that.’’

Markkanen was asked if players respected Hoiberg, and there was no hesitation.

“Yes, I think so. But, of course, it’s different,” he said. “I’m used to … more laid-back coach. I don’t know if there’s one right type to coach. But that’s definitely different but I would say they respected him.’’

Guard Zach LaVine expressed how much he enjoyed playing for Hoiberg, but also stressed it’s a business.

“It’s part of the business that you have to understand,’’ LaVine said. “II think this is going to be my fifth coach. You start understanding part of the business and how it is. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it.

“I texted him right afterward and let him know I appreciate him and thanks for all the hard work, because at the end of the day, Fred is a great dude and you respect that. He did a good job here. He was under some circumstances that you can’t control, but sometimes it’s over your head and you can’t control that.

“We appreciate him and we still got a job to do. We’ve got to come out here and play, and Coach [Jim] Boylen is filling in. He’s going to do his best and he’s already putting his footprint on how we’re going to change things.’’

Boylen will make his debut as head coach tonight against the Pacers.