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Chicago Bulls players say firing of Fred Hoiberg is 'tough'

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-12-05 04:00:14

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chicago Bulls players have had 24 hours, one practice and a shootaround to digest the dismissal of Fred Hoiberg as head coach and Jim Boylen's promotion from associate head coach.

"It's tough," Zach LaVine said after shootaround on Tuesday morning. "I texted [Hoiberg] right afterwards and let him know that I appreciated him and thanks for all the hard work. Because at the end of the day, Fred is a great dude and you respect that.

"You know he did a good job here. He was under some circumstances that he can't control."

The Bulls (5-19) have lost six consecutive games and 10 of their past 11. John Paxson, the Bulls' president of basketball operations, said the team fired Hoiberg not because they were struggling to win while missing three starting players, but because of what Paxson described as a lack of "competitive spirit."

Boylen, Paxson said, will "bring a strong voice to our locker room."

Lauri Markkanen, who will make his first start of the season Tuesday night against the Pacers, said the he "loved" playing for Hoiberg but had pause when asked whether Hoiberg had maintained control of the locker room.

"It's hard to say," Markkanen said. "That's a hard question."

When pressed, Markkanen said players in the locker room respected Hoiberg.

"I think so," Markkanen said. "But, of course, it's different. I'm used to a more laid-back coach. I don't know if there's one right type of coach."

Boylen has said he's a "more passionate in-game coach" than Hoiberg and he is already looking to make his mark. Boylen said he spent Monday night meeting individually with players in their hotel rooms in Indianapolis. He came to each meeting armed with a list -- compiled with his assistant coaches -- of what each player was doing well and how they could improve.

Among the tweaks Boylen has already made, he moved Jabari Parker out of the starting lineup. Parker will come off the bench behind Markkanen at forward, now that Markkanen has returned from an elbow injury. Under Hoiberg, the Bulls experimented with Parker at small forward briefly but he struggled. Justin Holiday will continue to start at small forward.

LaVine described Boylen as an "old-school coach" and a "tough-minded dude."

"We appreciate him," LaVine said of Hoiberg. "And you know, we still have a job to do."

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