Bulls coach Hoiberg: LeBron best player in game
On a day generally filled with optimism about the Bulls' future, someone brought up the name that threatens to ruin whatever Fred Hoiberg has in mind for his new team -- LeBron James.
The Bulls have been knocked out of the playoffs by one of James' teams four times in the last six years.
"LeBron, he's the best player in the game right now," Hoiberg said. "He does so many things. He gets in the paint, he's such a great passer. He's a great rebounder, offensively and defensively. I don't think I can answer right now, but when I watch all the games, you try to beat the best.
"You put a game plan together and we'll try to accomplish that. It'll be a big focus of what we do this offseason. Not just them, but compete against everybody in this league. Then try to go out there, get a great regular season record, get homecourt advantage, that's so important when playoff time rolls around."
Hoiberg back from surgery:
Just over six weeks ago, on April 17 at the Mayo Clinic, new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg had his second open-heart surgery. This one replaced a malfunctioning aortic valve.
He was asked about his health status at Tuesday's introductory news conference.
"If there was a danger in me doing this I wouldn't have taken this job," Hoiberg said. "As I replaced that valve, they said the danger was coaching last year with it.
"I've got a new nice mechanical valve. My kids can hear it beat across the room, hear the clicking. It almost sounds like a little bit like a cricket chirping in my chest. … Everything should be fine here moving forward."
Hoiberg's first surgery, in 2005, was the result an aneurysm in his aorta. Doctors removed the diseased tissue, replaced it with a Dacron graft and Hoiberg thought he'd resume his playing career. He changed his mind when his heart fell out of rhythm and he needed a pacemaker implanted.
Coaching staff assemble:
One of Fred Hoiberg's first tasks as Bulls head coach is to fill out his staff. It sounds as if the three remaining assistant coaches -- Adrian Griffin, Ed Pinckney and Mike Wilhelm -- are candidates to stay.
"I've actually already met with a couple of assistants that are already here," Hoiberg said. "I played against Adrian. Just the way he competed, I think he's terrific. Ed was in Minnesota when I was there. I have a terrific relationship with Ed. Mike Wilhelm was coaching here when I was in Chicago. I'm not sure guys can work any more than Mike. So absolutely, they will all be considered to remain on staff."
Hoiberg also mentioned he'd like to have a veteran assistant on board to help him through his initial NBA coaching job. Bulls vice president John Paxson is believed to be a fan of Clippers assistant Lawrence Frank, but it's not clear if Frank is available to change teams.
"Whether he's been a head coach or he's been around the game for a long time, that hire's going to be really important," Hoiberg said.