The Chicago Bulls are dealing with an injury to Derrick Rose once again this season and while he hopes to return for the playoffs this season, moving forward there could be some major changes to the franchise, as Tom Thibodeau could be on the firing block after reports of discord between him and the front office and if that happens, Fred Hoiberg would be the main target to replace him.
The Bulls are in position for one of the top seeds in the east, but many have predicted that the team will not get to the finals if they don't get Rose back. The Bulls were one of the savvy picks in the east to go all the way this season, but that was before Rose went down with another knee injury. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the team could look at making changes after the season, as Thibodeau and the front office have had a "rocky relationship" over the last few years.
Thibodeau and the front office do not always see eye to eye and Stein writes that it's "widely - and I mean widely - believed" that if Thibodeau is let go, Hoiberg would become a main target. Hoiberg and his Iowa State team just lost in the NCAA tournament in an upset against UAB and he has brought two Big 12 titles in a row to ISU. Hoiberg is considered a top target for teams that want new coaches and while he has rebuffed teams in the past, there is a chance that this year he could be swayed if the Bulls job opens up.
Thibodeau is considered to be one of the top coaches in the league, but he has had issues in the past with the front office, including about his intense practices. The Bulls had their eyes set on a finals run this year, but the Cavaliers have pushed into another gear and without their star in Rose, the team could have another disappointing end in the postseason. Hoiberg previously played for Bulls when he was in the NBA and while he has not coached in the league, he could make the transition.
The Bulls are currently a solid 42-29 on the season and second in the central, but they have numerous questions moving forward. Pau Gasol has been great this season, but can he keep it up for another year or two? Rose may return for the playoffs, but can he contribute? And how much will the Bulls be willing to spend to keep Jimmy Butler as a restricted free agent this summer? Stein reports that the Knicks, Lakers and Spurs will make runs at Butler and if he gets a massive offer, there is a chance the Bulls could let him go.
Rose is looking to make it back for the playoffs and Thibodeau said to CSN Chicago that he is "close" to coming back to full contact in practice. Rose had a knee procedure earlier in the season, his third in three years and while this one was not as serious as his other surgeries, the team likely will be careful with Rose. The former MVP has returned to non-contact drills, but so far he has not taken part in full practices with the team.