Reports have surfaced that the Chicago Bulls are trying to lure Fred Hoiberg as the team's next head coach. Hoiberg currently works as a coach for Iowa State.
According to a report from ESPN, multiple league sources indicated that the Bulls are in the process of negotiating a five-year contract with Hoiberg. Barring any last-minute fallout in negotiations, many feel that the deal is all but complete.
"The news doesn't come as a surprise," ESPN wrote. "Hoiberg has been mentioned as a successor to Tom Thibodeau for months, due to his close friendship with Bulls general manager Gar Forman and several others in the team's front office."
ESPN reported that 42-year-old Hoiberg would replace Thibodeau, who was fired on Thursday after five seasons with the Bulls. Forman told ESPN via text message on Saturday that Hoiberg is "not going to respond to rumors or sources."
According to K.C. Johnson of Chicago Tribune, Pau Gasol thanked Thibodeau on his personal website.
"Coach Thibodeau, (I) want to thank your trust and support this season," Gasol wrote in Spanish. "I am sure that his departure was a very difficult decision for the organization of the Bulls, but I am convinced that they have a solid plan for the success of the franchise. We all have high expectations for the coming season and will do anything to bring the ring to Chicago. Go Bulls!"
According to Johnson, Gasol, a veteran center who is best known for his high basketball IQ, supported Thibodeau publicly at several points during the season. In fact, Thibodeau's response during Gasol's free agency led Gasol to choose the Bulls over the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs.
"He thrived in Thibodeau's inside-out half-court approach, averaging 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds," Johnson wrote. "Gasol also played in all but four games, averaging 34.4 minutes."
Forman told Johnson that Hoiberg will have the opportunity to pick his own staff.
"Our coaches have the ability to hire who they want to hire, with approval from the front office," Forman said. "But more times than not, we're going to be very supportive of who they want on their staff."
According to ESPN, both Forman and Bulls executive vice president John Paxson emphasized that their next head coach had to be a strong communicator, which they felt Thibodeau struggled with near the end of his tenure. They both hoped that Hoiberg would help "create a more free-flowing offensive system" that will help them in the next Eastern Conference playoffs.
"Hoiberg's personable skills worked well in college, and his 'NBA style' -- he is a players-first coach -- is expected to aid in his transition to the pros," ESPN wrote. "He also ran Iowa State like an NBA team, taking multiple transfers as if they were free agents each season."
ESPN reported that Hoiberg retired from playing basketball in April 2006 to work for the Minnesota Timberwolves front office. In addition, he underwent aortic valve replacement surgery April 17 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.