Jimmy Butler calls out Fred Hoiberg following Bulls loss


Jimmy Butler calls out Fred Hoiberg following Bulls loss

By Josh Newman

NEW YORK – Tom Thibodeau was a no-nonsense type of coach for the Bulls, but Fred Hoiberg, as expected, comes off as more of an easygoing personality.

Even with the same core that Thibodeau had still in place, the Bulls were sure to take on a different makeup, but the team has still played well, getting into the mix in both the Central Division and Eastern Conference races despite Saturday night’s 107-91 loss to the New York Knicks.

[MORE: Joakim Noah scores season-high 21 but Bulls fall to Knicks]

The Bulls are 15-10 overall, but have lost five of their last nine, including a quadruple-overtime decision to the Detroit Pistons on Friday night at the United Center. With this amount of losing going on, at least one core piece isn’t happy with what is going on, specifically the level of coaching Hoiberg is providing.

“I believe in the guys in this locker room, yeah, but I also believe that we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times,” Jimmy Butler said after scoring just 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting one night after he played 56 minutes against the Pistons. “I know Fred is a laidback guy and I respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you gotta get on guys, myself included. You gotta do what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there playing basketball.

“We weren’t doing what were supposed to be doing, what we wrote on that board before the game. Nobody spoke up. I did, but probably not enough times. I think he has to hold everybody accountable, from the No. 1 player, all the way down. Everyone has to do their job.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

The Bulls are not a young team that is building towards something, but instead a veteran team with pieces in place to potentially make a playoff run if everyone is healthy. That latter part has proven difficult, specifically with the oft-injured Derrick Rose, but the fact remains this is a veteran roster that could do damage come springtime if everything falls into place.

With that, will Butler’s comments carry any weight moving forward? The Bulls are currently 2.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Central Division and tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference, which is a logjam. The Bulls are just one-half game out of second, while the Cavs lead the East by two full games at this early juncture.

“If we would’ve won, we wouldn’t be saying this, but since we lost the way that we did, maybe it had something to do with it,” Butler said. “No matter if you’re a veteran team or a young team, you still have to go out and do your job. We have to lead since we are the veterans, we have to lead by example and talk everything out here.”

The Bulls will remain in New York through Monday when they visit the Brooklyn Nets, before playing at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day and the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 26.


Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame


Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

Kendall Gill can add another bullet point to his resume.

NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls analyst was announced as a member of the University of Illinois' Athletics Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018. Gill enters in the same class as his coach at Illinois, Lou Henson, and former Bulls broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr.

Gill was a part of Illinois' 1989 Final Four team and earned consensus Second-Team All-America honors the following year as a senior when he led the Big Ten in scoring (20 points per game). He is third in program history in steals with 218.

He went on to have a 15-year NBA career, which included a stint with the Bulls.

Last year was the inaugural class for Illinois' hall of fame.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling.