Fred Hoiberg working on five-year deal to be Bulls coach, sources say

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Chicago Bulls are negotiating a five-year contract with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg to become their next head coach, multiple league sources told ESPN's Andy Katz and Nick Friedell.

A source close to situation told ESPN's Jeff Goodman that Hoiberg will meet with the Bulls on Monday and that the sides are expected to complete a deal, barring a last-second collapse in negotiations.

Although contract language is still being hammered out, multiple sources said the feeling from many within the Bulls organization is that the deal is all but complete.

The news doesn't come as a surprise; 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. Thibodeau was fired Thursday after five seasons with the Bulls. He had two years and almost $9 million left on his contract.

Hoiberg, 42, spent four of his 10 seasons in the NBA playing for the Bulls. He is respected throughout the league for the success he has had at his alma mater, but his move from Ames to Chicago has been expected for a while. Although it is unclear exactly when a formal news conference will be held to announce the Hoiberg hiring, the Des Moines Register reported it could come as early as Tuesday.

Hoiberg's deal is believed to be worth a total of $25 million, the New York Daily News reported. He did not reply to multiple text messages sent by Forman said in a text message Saturday that he is "not going to respond to rumors or sources."

Hoiberg had aortic valve replacement surgery April 17 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He initially had surgery in June 2005 to correct an enlarged aortic valve.

Hoiberg retired from playing basketball in April 2006 at age 33 to take a job in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office.

Nicknamed "the Mayor," Hoiberg was celebrated upon his return to Ames in 2010. He coached the Cyclones to the NCAA tournament in four of his five seasons, including the past four. Iowa State reached the Sweet 16 in 2014 and won more than 25 games the past two seasons and 115 total in his five at the school. He signed a 10-year deal with the Cyclones in April 2013.

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. He also ran Iowa State like an NBA team, taking multiple transfers as if they were free agents each season.

Forman and Bulls executive vice president John Paxson stressed that their next head coach must be a strong communicator, something both felt Thibodeau struggled with, especially toward the end of his tenure. The hope within the Bulls organization is that Hoiberg fits the bill and can create a more free-flowing offensive system -- he ran a pro-style offense in Ames -- that will get the Bulls over the hump in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard has been expecting Hoiberg's departure for months but had remained in limbo while waiting to see if the Bulls would fire Thibodeau. Pollard said in a text to last week that the situation was "definitely bizarre.'' He didn't return a Saturday text message to

Once Hoiberg is out, the Cyclones will consider looking inward at top assistant T.J. Otzelberger, who was with them for seven seasons before leaving for a similar position at Washington. He returned to Hoiberg's staff this spring.

Former Iowa State coach and current UTEP coach (and one-time Bulls coach) Tim Floyd, as well as current Phoenix Suns coach and Iowa State alumnus Jeff Hornacek, also are expected to be in the mix for the position. Hornacek has one more season guaranteed with the Suns, with a team option for 2016-17.

"It would be an honor, and it'd be fun to coach your alma mater, but [Suns general manager] Ryan [McDonough] and I came here with a purpose, and the purpose is to get the Phoenix Suns back on track," Hornacek said Friday, according to, when asked about the potential Iowa State opening. "We had a good start the first year and some bumps last year, but we're committed to being here and get this thing going.''

Iowa State is expected to be a top-10 team next season. The Cyclones returnGeorges Niang, Jameel McKay and Monte Morris and should challenge Kansasfor the top spot in the Big 12.

ESPN's Marc Stein contributed to this report.

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