But in the midst of yet another difficult season, where injuries have once again derailed a potential shot at a championship somewhat significantly, the chatter has become louder on the subject, and reports continue to indicate that a coaching change could very well be made once the current campaign is finished.
If that happens, the Bulls may already have a replacement in mind.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
It is widely — and I mean widely — believed throughout the league that Fred Hoiberg, whose Iowa State Cyclones were bounced in the first round of the tournament Thursday by UAB, is the top choice of the Chicago Bulls to replace Tom Thibodeau in the event that the Bulls and Thibs indeed part company at season’s end.
Good luck with that.
Hoiberg played four seasons for the Bulls from 1999-2003, so there is an existing relationship. And, once his Iowa State college team hit the tournament a year ago, rumors of a jump to the NBA similarly began to surface.
But there’s no guarantee that he’ll be a fit at the NBA level, and Thibodeau has proven that he can motivate teams to play harder on a more consistent basis than seemingly anyone else.
Unfortunately for Thibodeau, being very good at his job isn’t enough to guarantee a long-term position in his current situation. We’ve seen coaches fired (or not brought back) after leading teams to some of their best seasons ever — Lionel Hollins, George Karl and Mark Jackson all did well-above-average jobs, but either had different philosophies than the organization, or simply didn’t get along with ownership or members of the front office.
It wouldn’t be great for Bulls fans if the team and Thibodeau ultimately parted ways. But he’d almost assuredly be employed somewhere else very quickly, and certainly before the beginning of next season.