Multiple sources continued to point to early this week as the timeframe for the Bulls and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg to finally put an end to the worst-kept secret the NBA has going, joining forces in handing Hoiberg the coaching seat that opened up with the dismissal of Tom Thibodeau.
It’s believed to be a five-year deal near the $25 million range, as the health concerns surrounding Hoiberg no longer seem to be an obstacle.
And while the front office remained mum on the so-called coaching search which was started on Thursday night, there remained a growing buzz out of Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, as the college town prepared for life without the “Mayor.’’
One report had the Cyclones athletic department already in discussions with assistant coach T.J. Otzelberger as a possible replacement.
A source in the coaching circuit told the Sun-Times on Friday that any search the Bulls were pretending to actually be participating in was “a charade,’’ and that it was just about Hoiberg giving the final yes. A yes that was expected as early as Monday, so the Bulls can get him in town and his contract signed before the start of Thursday’s NBA Finals.
So what exactly will the Bulls look like when Hoiberg ends all the speculation?
Well, “Hoiball,’’ as his up-tempo offense is nicknamed, relies on quick possessions, very little false action away from the ball, and a three-point shooter on the weak side always away from the pick-and-roll action. It’s efficient and entertaining … in college basketball.
Therein lies the question mark – does it translate to the NBA?
From a personnel standpoint, the likes of Doug McDermott, Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic could all excel as that weak-side outside threat. Mike Dunleavy obviously would too, but the veteran is a free agent, and unless the Bulls can move salary it’s unlikely that the small forward would be returning.
The one question that would have to be answered, however, is Hoiberg’s use of the Bulls bigs. In Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, Hoiberg would have at least two big bodies on the court at once, and at least at Iowa State, he didn’t usually put a big on the block in the post. Instead, there’s a lot of action for a big behind the defense, closer to the basket.
Hoiberg’s decision making with the bigs could be made easier with growing speculation that the team will likely try and move either Noah or Gibson.
Noah would be ideal because he’s entering the final year of his deal and scheduled to make $13.4 million, while Gibson has two more years left at $8.5 million and $8.9 million, respectively. However, Noah is also suffering from a left knee that is basically bone-on-bone, and might even have trouble passing a physical in an attempted trade.
According to a source close to the team, Gibson was very upset with the team firing Thibodeau. The reserve has always been very loyal to Thibodeau and the entire coaching staff, and was described as a guy that right now “needed time to cool down.’’
If he can’t, however, the team might have to attempt to move him, not only from a potential chemistry standpoint, but also because his contract is much more attractive.
The biggest hurdle awaiting Hoiberg, however, could be growing speculation that Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose have already started a collision course on who is the alpha male of the team? Thibodeau was able to keep it in check, but can a college coach with no NBA coaching experience do the same?
The Bulls could start finding that out as early as Monday.