Chicago Bulls, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: TABFTC – The reason Fred Hoiberg got fired by the Bulls

Wondering why the Chicago Bulls somewhat randomly fired Fred Hoiberg? TABFTC is a handy acronym to explain the situation.

Sometimes, NBA teams have very good reasons for firing their head coaches. The Chicago Bulls may have had reasons for firing Fred Hoiberg, but they weren’t all that good, and they definitely don’t explain why Hoiberg was let go just months into the regular season.

Let’s quickly recap Hoiberg’s Bulls tenure. Year 1 saw him take a Jimmy Butler-led Bulls team and miss the postseason, despite going 42-40. It didn’t help that Butler sat out 15 games that season.

In Year 2 Hoiberg, who is known for running offenses with spacing and shooting, was given Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo to play with Butler. The spacing and shooting (and locker room) were bad, but those Bulls went .500 and had a surprisingly fun first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

Before Year 3 the Bulls dumped Wade and Rondo and traded Butler for a package centered around Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen had a promising rookie year and LaVine barely played as he recovered from injury. As expected, Chicago was bad.

The Bulls were bad to start year four as well, but that also was expected. Chicago spent huge money on keeping LaVine and adding Jabari Parker, two players with obvious defensive liabilities. The Bulls should’ve focused on developing Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. and been satisfied with another good draft pick. Instead, they went ahead and fired Hoiberg on Monday.

Chicago has lost six straight games, so it’s not like the Bulls were thriving. They finally had gotten Markkanen back healthy and, again, weren’t expected to be any good this season anyway. So why fire Fred Hoiberg right now?

The answer is a sports tradition that’s been around for a long, long time, and Hoiberg is only the latest to succumb to it. It can be explained with a simple new acronym I’m debuting here: TABFTC. Things are bad? Fire the coach.

The basic premise is when a team is mired in a bad place, the easiest way to make it look like the organization is taking steps in the right direction is to fire their coach. Bringing in Jim Boylen to coach the rest of the year and maybe longer won’t magically turn the Bulls into a playoff contender. The organization needs new players, culture, and truthfully a whole new front office to get back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

But firing Hoiberg gives Bulls management an easy proof of effort. That’s the only real logic in the move, unless somehow things behind the scenes with Hoiberg and the front office or players were much, much worse than anybody has known. More likely than not, this is simply a way for John Paxson and Gar Forman to buy themselves time in this long rebuild. Always be wary of the TABFTC.

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