Central Notes: Hoiberg, Gibson, Vaughn, Pacers

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has job security despite the team’s disappointing season, claims Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. In a video response to readers’ questions, Wojnarowski says GM Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson “could not wait” to hire Hoiberg away from Iowa State last summer, claiming the front office and the coach knew the move was coming months before it was made. Hoiberg still has four years and $20MM left on his contract, and the Bulls are unlikely to absorb that much salary, especially after firing former coach Tom Thibodeau with $9MM left on his deal. Wojnarowski believes Forman and Paxson have no choice but to build a roster that fits with Hoiberg’s style, as their future is now tied to his success or failure.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Hoiberg has a strong defender in Bulls power forward Taj Gibson, who says the coach’s critics need to “shut up,” relays K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune“Everybody tries to discredit this man, and it’s rough,” Gibson said. “He’s a rookie coach taking on a veteran group. Give him some slack, man. It’s hard enough as it is to come in. You have the whole city of Chicago on your back. It’s tough. But I think he’s learning, doing a good job, staying with us. And I’m riding with him no matter what.”
  • Bucks rookie shooting guard Rashad Vaughn is getting his first NBA start tonight, according to Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Coach Jason Kidd gave Vaughn the opportunity partly to keep Tyler Ennis with the reserve unit, but also because of Vaughn’s improved play of late. “Being sent down to the D-League and being asked to play minutes, he’s been a positive since he’s been back,” Kidd said.
  • There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Pacers‘ late-season collapse, writes Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. He claims the root of the problem goes back to president of basketball operations Larry Bird’s decision to make Indiana a smaller, faster team with Paul George starting at power forward. George resisted the move and has been a poor leader in general, Doyel claims. Coach Frank Vogel also gets blasted by Doyel, who notes that the Pacers have lost a league-high 20 games that they’ve led during the fourth quarter.
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