Jimmy Butler still wants Fred Hoiberg to coach him harder. No, Butler didn’t exactly call Hoiberg out like he did after a loss last December, but he said at Monday’s media day that he needs tough coaching. This was his response to a reporter asking if he had told Hoiberg anything he needs going into the season, via CSN Chicago:
“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,'” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”
Hoiberg is not about to turn into Tom Thibodeau. Part of the reason the Bulls hired Hoiberg was that he has a reputation for being calm under pressure and personable. After the all the hubbub with Butler last year, though, he said that he did yell at players when necessary. Butler is making it clear that the team needs more of that, and as the team’s best player, it’s important that he’s treated the same way as everybody else. That’s reasonable, as long as Hoiberg doesn’t have to try to be somebody he isn’t.
If this issue comes up again, it will be because the team is struggling. Butler’s initial complaint followed 16-point loss to the New York Knicks, a day after a quadruple-overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons. Had they won that game in New York, perhaps this would have never become a storyline.
Heading into his second season on the job, Hoiberg’s focus is probably not on the way he plans to communicate and criticize his players. With Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade joining the team, Hoiberg has several huge challenges: getting them to jell with Butler offensively, maintaining some sort of spacing and figuring out a defensive game plan. The Bulls never quite got it together last year, and now they have a bunch of pieces that don’t naturally fit together. Locker-room accountability is important, but that’s hardly Chicago’s main concern.