There have been rumors floating around about a growing conflict between the Bulls' front office and coach Tom Thibodeau for a while. It appears that just in case the relationship can't be mended, the Bulls have a replacement in mind: Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. ESPN's Marc Stein reports that "it is widely believed throughout the league" that the coach of the Cyclones will be the Bulls' first choice if Thibodeau leaves Chicago this upcoming offseason.
Why it makes sense
Hoiberg is a highly-regarded college coach after leading his team to the tournament the past four years in a row, reaching the Sweet 16 in 2014. He had a 10-year career as a player in the NBA and was part of the Timberwolves' front office before going back home to take over as coach of the Cyclones. The pedigree to make the jump is there, and there have been rumors of interest from several NBA teams. If the Bulls want to go with a rookie coach, Hoiberg makes a lot of sense.
The Cyclones lost in the first round of the tournament this season but the program seems to be thriving. Hoiberg is young enough to give the NBA a try and if it doesn't work out, he could always return to Iowa State, where he's adored, in the future. He is reportedly happy coaching his hometown team, but a call from the Bulls would surely get his interest. An opportunity to coach a team with that much talent and in a big market doesn't come along that often so he might regret passing it up.
Why it doesn't make sense
While Thibodeau's tendency to ride top players for too long is a serious flaw, he has showed the ability to extract the most of the talent available to him. The Bulls have overachieved without Derrick Rose for seasons in no small part thanks to Thibodeau's focus on defense, and his knack for finding unlikely contributors from the NBA's bargain bin, especially at the point guard position. The track record speaks for itself: Thibodeau's style wins games.
Hoiberg is a respected coach but he would still be a rookie coach in the NBA. Will he command the respect of the locker room? One of the reasons the Bulls are a top team is because everyone buys into the defensive philosophy and are willing to make sacrifices. It's possible that remains the case even without Thibodeau, but if it turns out he was more important to the team's success than the front office thinks, letting him go could come back to haunt Chicago. Patching things up remains the best option for both parties.
Likelihood of happening (6/10)
The persistent rumors about Thibodeau's departure in the offseason are hard to ignore at this point. His differences with the front office seem to be philosophical, so it's unlikely they can patch things up. If it's true Hoiberg is the front-runner, convincing him to leave Iowa would be the only challenge, but it would be hard for him to pass up such a great chance to make the jump into the NBA.