When the Bulls formally announced the firing of Tom Thibodeau from the head coaching position, the front office claimed that they would “begin the process” of searching for a replacement the moment the press conference was finished.
“We’ll be looking for someone who’s a leader, who has great communication skills, who’s got an excellent knowledge of the game of basketball, someone that’s an open and creative learner,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said. “We’re not going to address specific names today. There won’t be updates. We’ll begin that process here tonight and into the weekend.”
As it turns out, they had a candidate in mind all along, so those statements were disingenuous, at best.
According to a source, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg already has a deal in place to become the Bulls’ next head coach. The parameters of the deal were discussed while Thibodeau was still employed by the Bulls.
Hoiberg’s deal is believed to be in the $25 million range over five years. Hoiberg, who recently needed a second heart surgery, is merely waiting to be cleared by doctors before officially accepting the job.
The ties between Forman and Hoiberg go back several years.
It’s not like Bulls management and ownership don’t know Hoiberg, 42, well. He spent four seasons with the Bulls (1999-2003), played at Iowa State when general manager Gar Forman was an assistant to Tim Floyd his senior season and has guided his alma mater’s return to prominence with the front office scouting his teams — and him — along the way.
Forman even purchased Hoiberg’s home when Hoiberg left the Bulls to play for the Timberwolves.
Look, it’s fine for Forman to run the Bulls how he sees fit, and for the organization to make decisions that it believes are best for the long-term health of the franchise.
But can we not pretend like this was a wide-open candidacy?
Thibodeau wasn’t well-liked by his bosses, which was ultimately the reason for his demise. No one knows yet whether or not Hoiberg can be successful coaching at the NBA level, but if nothing else, he comes into the job with the likability piece already firmly in place.