CHICAGO (AP) – When he took the Chicago Bulls’ coaching job last June, Fred Hoiberg saw a chance to compete for a championship.
Now, it’s time to see if that vision becomes a reality.
The Bulls begin a new era under Hoiberg with Rose in the lineup when they host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Tuesday’s opener.
Gone is hard-driving, defensive-oriented coach Tom Thibodeau. In his place is the freewheeling Hoiberg, with a fast-paced offense and an approach that management hopes will preserve the team for the stretch run.
“I feel very fortunate to be in this position, to come to a team that we feel can be very competitive,” said Hoiberg, who came to Chicago after a five-year run at Iowa State that produced four straight NCAA appearances and back-to-back Big 12 tournament titles. “If we do everything right, we’ll be competing at the highest level.”
With stars such as Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol, he sees himself succeeding where other coaches who have made the leap from colleges to the NBA did not.
The Bulls made the playoffs all five years under Thibodeau and might have even won a championship had Rose been able to stay healthy. That story has been told and retold, and it is only fitting that as Hoiberg prepares for his NBA coaching debut, Rose is working his way back from yet another operation.
This one was to repair a fractured left orbital he suffered on the first day of practice, an injury that was not as serious as the torn ACL in his left knee or the torn meniscus in his right knee that derailed the Bulls in recent seasons.
The good news for the Bulls is that Hoiberg said the former MVP point guard will start without any minute restrictions against Cleveland. That was news to Rose, who had not been told.
Either way, Hoiberg said the Bulls will still be careful with his playing time given that he missed almost the entire preseason.
Rose insists he is ready, even with only one good eye.