INDIANAPOLIS – The Bulls and Pacers played some afternoon basketball today at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, amid the report that Head Coach Fred Hoiberg may be in danger of losing his job.
On the strength of Paul George‘s 32 point performance, the Pacers handled the Bulls with relative ease on Friday afternoon, leading the Bulls the majority of the game en route to an eventual 111-101 victory.
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls in scoring like most nights with 25 points, and Cristiano Felicio recorded his first career double-double on the afternoon. Rajon Rondo was only able to record one assist and zero points in the first half on Friday in Indiana, and was benched for the entire second half as a result.
Michael Carter-Williams saw increased minutes in place of the benched Rajon Rondo, and MCW responded well with 12 points, eight rebounds, and an assist in his 27 minutes of action, and was praised by Fred Hoiberg for his role in a solid performance by the Bulls reserves.
Before the Bulls and the Pacers tipped-off this afternoon, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that Bulls Head Coach Rajon Rondo was the owner of the “toastiest seat on the NBA map”.
Yet sources told ESPN.com this week that the Bulls have been increasingly assessing the coaching fit as well, sparked by an ongoing dip in the team’s level of play and consistency that began with an unraveling at home on Dec. 13 from 21 points up against the Minnesota Timberwolves and a certain Tom Thibodeau. -Excerpt from Marc Stein report on Friday.
Stein points out in his report that Hoiberg’s biggest “insulation” to this point, has been the fact that the Bulls would have to eat the majority of the roughly $25 million dollars that they signed Hoiberg for before the 2015-2016 season.
Sitting at 16-17 after Friday’s loss, the Bulls are wrapping up what has been a rough month of December, marred by inconsistency and poor performances late in games. The Bulls lost nine of their 15 games in December, and the schedule only gets more difficult in early January. The Bulls will face the Bucks tomorrow on New Year’s Eve, the Bucks are heading into the game red-hot, and already having two wins under their belt versus the Bulls this season.The Bulls also take on the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first nine days of January.
Rajon Rondo has been largely ineffective through the first quarter of the season, and is in real danger of losing his starting role to Michael Carter-Williams if the current trend continues, maybe as soon as the first week of the new year when they get ready to take on a gauntlet of daunting opponents.
The idea that Hoiberg is on the hot seat at this point is a bit of a head-scratcher. I think that Hoiberg isn’t wholly to blame for the Bulls struggles over the last two years, even though, quite frankly I don’t think he is a very good coach at all, but he has been handed a highly imperfect roster by Gar Forman and John Paxson.
The Bulls are in the bottom third of the NBA in every major offensive category, and dead last in the league in three-point shooting under Fred Hoiberg this season.
The Bulls will stumble into the new year this weekend, reeling from a tumultuous December, dealing with a roster lacking significant talent, questions about the point guard position, and a head coach who’s job is in doubt, putting them in danger of their second consecutive season without a playoff berth.
Catch the Bulls and Bucks play their final games of the year 2016 tomorrow at 6:00 PM (CT) on CSN-Chicago (TV) and WLS-890AM (Radio).