The vast coaching search the Bulls spent an entire five days working on stretched about 357 miles west to Ames, Iowa, and never needed to go beyond that.
The Bulls on Tuesday introduced former Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg as their new coach, putting an end to the worst-kept secret in the NBA during the last year.
Hoiberg, who played for the Bulls from 1999 to 2003, became the fourth coach to be hired under the John Paxson/Gar Forman regime and the 19th Bulls coach overall, not including interim coaches. He replaces Tom Thibodeau, who was fired Thursday
despite compiling a 255-139 record in five seasons and having two years and $9 million left on his contract.
Fred Hoiberg: 8 things to know about new Bulls coachThe Bulls wasted little time trying to smooth over reports of long-running talks between the parties, with Forman making sure to address that issue in his opening statement.
‘‘He’s a talented, in-demand coach that has attracted significant interest throughout the league and was atop our list as we began this process,’’ Forman said. ‘‘We visited with Fred at length this past weekend. As we did, it became very apparent to us that he was the fit we had talked about — a fit with our players, a fit with our team. He was the right guy to maximize the potential of this team.
‘‘As far as the timing, [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] and I visited casually with Fred last week to gauge interest and so Jerry could become reacquainted with Fred. This past weekend, we started to talk seriously about the job. And then [Monday] night, we came to a final agreement. Frankly, we didn’t know it would move this quickly.’’
Fred Hoiberg must walk fine line between pleasing players, managementThat would contradict several sources who have said during the last week that the Bulls had Hoiberg planted in their heads last season and had made contact with him numerous times this season.
Hoiberg, who is thought to have received a five-year, $25 million contract, played that off to social media and the rumors that trickle down from it.
‘‘I knew with everything that was going on that it was all rumor and speculation,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘Players [from Iowa State] would come in sometimes and talk about that because, look, social media has just completely changed the dynamic of the world that we live in right now.
‘‘But . . . this was something that we came to the conclusion that we were going to make this jump two days ago.’’
This will be Hoiberg’s first NBA coaching job, but he spent four seasons as the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading to Ames to coach the Cyclones in 2010. He compiled a 115-56 record in five seasons at Iowa State, won the Big 12 tournament twice and reached the NCAA tournament four times.
With the Bulls, he inherits a team that reached the playoffs in all five seasons under Thibodeau and returns a veteran core of players.
‘‘I think absolutely this team is ready to compete with those core pieces,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘You add pieces here and there, you get a good young player in the draft . . .
‘‘Again, I understand everything involved with the decisions [the front office] makes. I lived their life; I lived in their shoes. So I absolutely think it’s in a spot where we can compete and it can be sustained.’’