The Chicago Bulls are set to hire Fred Hoiberg as head coach to take over for Tom Thibodeau after he was fired and the team now can focus on offseason priorities, including signing Jimmy Butler to a max contract in free agency and this comes as teams may target Taj Gibson in trade talks this summer.
The Bulls fired Thibodeau despite a run of success over the past five years and they released a statement citing differences in culture and approach as reasons for the move. According to Pro Basketball Talk, Fred Hoiberg has been a main target for the Bulls since last year and now he is set to sign a five year deal with the team, which will be announced Monday and officially set with a press conference on Tuesday. News trickled out over the weekend, with CBS Sports reporting that that Hoiberg would be hired once a physical took place.
Hoiberg is making the jump from college to the pros after having a nice run with Iowa State and it comes after Hoiberg previously played for the Bulls. Hoiberg has a strong track record in college with Iowa State, making a deep run with his team a couple years ago and now he makes the jump to the pros. Billy Donovan also went from college to the NBA by moving from Florida to the Thunder and those two coaches will try and improve after taking over for Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau, who had success over the last few years.
The biggest issue for the Bulls once the season ended was dealing with the Thibodeau situation, as reports had the coach and front office dealing with friction for some time. The team clearly wanted to change things, as the statement they made at the end of the year said the "culture" of the team had to change from where it was this year. Reports from the Chicago Tribune had starting players ripping Thibodeau in exit interviews and that likely was a reason for the change.
Those reports did not name any names, but if Jimmy Butler was among them, the team likely wanted to make sure he was comfortable moving forward. Either way, the team is interested in bringing back Butler and he comes into the summer heading into restricted free agency. According to USA Today, Butler has said that he would like to stay with the Bulls moving forward and that he is "happy to be here" in Chicago.
Butler rejected a contract extension last season when he had the chance to sign one and that turned out to be a smart move, as he had a career season and won the most improved player award. The Bulls reportedly will match any offer sheet that Butler gets and he likely will get one or two, as the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics reportedly are interested in Butler. Butler was one of the main reasons the team was able to deal with Derrick Rose being injured and he comes in after averaging a career best 20 points last season.
The team also could consider a trade with Taj Gibson, as that came up during the season with the emergence of Nikola Mirotic and the strong play of Pau Gasol.