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Chicago Bulls Set to Announce Fred Hoiberg As New Coach

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 2, 2015 5:35PM

In a case of deja vu from almost two decades ago, rumors have swirled for months that the Bulls wanted to replace a successful head coach with an Iowa St. coach that is friendly with management but lacking in NBA coaching experience. Back in 1996, the Bulls parted ways with Phil Jackson following six titles in eight years, replacing him with Tim Floyd just as rumors predicted. And it appears that rumors hold truth yet again. Last week, the team did in fact part ways with their head coach of five seasons. Now, the second part is about to come to fruition.

Fred Hoiberg recently arrived in Chicago from Ames, Iowa by private jet and, according to a source, finalized a five-year deal to coach the Chicago Bulls. He met with management and ownership Monday and the Bulls have announced a 2 p.m. news conference Tuesday where Hoiberg's hiring is expected to be announced. His new deal is expected to be worth just under $5 million a year.

The 42-year-old Hoiberg has been head coach at his alma mater for five seasons, compiling a 115-56 record with the Cyclones. He led his teams to the NCAA Tournament the past four seasons, reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 2014.

Hoiberg played for Iowa St. from 1991 to 1995, followed by a 10 year NBA career with the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves. Hoiberg spent four seasons with the Bulls from 1999 to 2003. He retired from playing following heart surgery to correct an enlarged aortic root in 2005 and joined the Minnesota coaching staff before moving into their front office. He jumped from NBA front office to the collegiate coaching ranks in 2010.

Expect Hoiberg to have a much closer relationship with the front office than his predecessor. Hoiberg had been connected with the job because of his close relationship with Gar Forman, and the Bulls GM as well as John Paxson are looking to reassert who is in control.

While sparring with the front office, Thibodeau built the Bulls into an elite defensive team and helped develop end of the first round players like Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler into stars. Hoiberg will now be tasked with building upon Thibs' success while playing nice with management and improving the team's inconsistent offense. If he can do so, the Bulls could be ready to compete for a title next season.

A model of success could be similar to former Bull Steve Kerr's rookie season as coach of the Golden State Warriors that emphasized shooting and quick paced offense. The Bulls have pieces who could excel in such a system, especially last year's rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. However, if the team backslides and misses the window they're currently in, he could end up part of a growing alumni of first time head coaches who didn't work out for the Chicago Bulls.