Bulls

Report: Fred Hoiberg the frontrunner for soon-to-be vacancy at Nebraska

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USA TODAY

Report: Fred Hoiberg the frontrunner for soon-to-be vacancy at Nebraska

It appears that Hoiball could be making a return to the Midwest.

Stadium's Jeff Goodman reported Monday afternoon that once Nebraska head coach Tim Miles is relieved of his duties former Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg will be the frontrunner for the opening.

Hoiberg was fired in December in the midst of his fourth season with the Bulls. Prior to accepting the head coaching gig in 2015, Hoiberg spent five successful seasons in Ames, Iowa, as the head coach of the Iowa State basketball team. The Cyclones enjoyed four trips to the NCAA Tournament - including a Sweet 16 in 2014 - with Hoiberg leading his group to a record of 115-56 and 49 conference wins.

Hoiberg has kept a relatively low profile since his firing in early December, though he did pop up in Chicago this past week watching the Michigan State basketball team take part in the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center. Hoiberg's son, Jack, is a walk-on for the Spartans.

The fit makes sense, as Hoiberg was unlikely to get another shot in the NBA despite a few reports that the Timberwolves were considering replacing Tom Thibodeau with Hoiberg. The Timberwolves wound up staying in-house and hiring Ryan Saunders, an assistant and son of the late Flip Saunders. Hoiberg's name also appeared in some talks regarding the UCLA opening after the Bruins fired Steve Alford, though nothing really surfaced there.

When the Timberwolves and UCLA rumors surfaced, Hoiberg told ESPN's Zach Lowe that "my passion is in coaching" and that he wouldn't consider a return to an NBA front office, where he previously had worked in Minnesota.

Hoiberg will remain in the Midwest should he accept the Nebraska role and would begin a similar rebuild to the one he faced at Iowa State. The Cyclones had suffered four straight losing seasons and had one winning record in the Big 12 since 2002 when Hoiberg took over in 2011. A quick look at the Huskers' roster shows that its top three scorers - James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland Jr. and Glynn Watson - are all seniors.

The Huskers missed the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season and are hosting Butler in the NIT on Wednesday. Miles is 115-113 in seven seasons with the Huskers but has just three winning seasons and the one tournament berth in 2014.

Thad Young makes Zach LaVine's All-Star case, offers advice to Lauri Markkanen

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USA Today

Thad Young makes Zach LaVine's All-Star case, offers advice to Lauri Markkanen

Before any assorted media had a chance to ask Thad Young a question following Tuesday morning shootaround, he had something to get off his chest.

"Before we start, I just want to say Zach LaVine should be an All-Star. It should be said and done already," Young began, unprompted. "That guy’s been putting on a show for the past couple months. Been doing his thing. He’s been incredible. So Zach LaVine for All-Star. I'm saying it here and now, lets make sure we get this done. Everybody go vote, go do what you gotta do."

Young isn't the first Bull to plead LaVine's case, and he certainly won't be the last. The question, though, is who he is pleading to. Fan voting for All-Star starters ended Jan. 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET, the night before Young's statement.

Perhaps it's a call to coaches. Though the last fan voting returns had LaVine as the sixth-ranked Eastern Conference backcourt player, there remains the possibility of him sneaking in as one of the seven reserves, which coaches vote on.

That pool will be crowded, but LaVine has made a tremendous case for himself with his recent play. This month, LaVine is averaging 30 points (t-6th in the NBA), 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game on 49 percent shooting from the field (35.9 percent from 3). He's played 36.8 minutes per night in 11 January games.

"He’s done more than enough, he’s more than capable. He’s shown it time and time again, and he’s been great for us all season long," Young said. "He don’t have to pay me anything [to say this], that was my rook in Minnesota. He’s a great teammate, he’s one of the best ever, he wants to get better each and every day."

But no Young media availability would be complete without imparting a bit of veteran wisdom. When asked what Lauri Markkanen — who's season-long struggles are well-documented — can learn from LaVine's ascension, Young was candid.

"I think the confidence level of Zach and what he’s done can be instilled in Lauri a little bit. Lauri starts to miss shots, sometimes he gets down on himself. Zach misses a shot, Zach’s like, ‘I’m going to shoot the next one. I’m going to be more aggressive. I’m going to try to get to the basket,’" Young said. "And then being able to mix up his game a little bit. Not just, ‘Hey, I’m just going to shoot the 3’ or ‘I’m just going to drive and take it to the basket’ [without] having an in-between game or being able to mix in some post ups here and there."

On Markkanen's ability to do that within the Bulls' system: "Our offense is structured and predicated on 3s and getting to the basket. But coaches are still encouraging him to mix everything up. The coaches are encouraging everybody to mix it up — try to give opposing teams something different, something that they haven’t seen."

Starters and captains for the 2020 All-Star game will be announced Jan. 23, with reserve announcements coming Jan. 30. If LaVine makes it, Bulls fans can look forward to the All-Star draft on Feb. 6.

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Thad Young on trade rumors: 'I’m a Chicago Bull. Whatever happens happens'

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USA Today

Thad Young on trade rumors: 'I’m a Chicago Bull. Whatever happens happens'

Last July, when he controlled his free-agency decision, Thad Young chose to sign with the Bulls.

Come the Feb. 6 trade deadline, Young has no control.

“I’m just playing basketball. I’m a Chicago Bull. Whatever happens happens. I understand it’s a business,” Young told NBC Sports Chicago. “If I’m traded, I’m traded and have to go to the next city. If I’m not, then I’m here with my brothers, here with my teammates, and ready to fight.”

Still, given that the first season of his three-year deal hasn’t gone as planned, would Young want a change of address? The Bulls are one of the league’s biggest underachieving stories and Young’s playing time was so low that his camp last month conveyed to management his desire to play more.

“That’s not my focus,” he said. “My focus is on playing for the Bulls and helping us get some wins.”

Young is averaging 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game. While his playing time has increased in light of injuries to Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford, he still is playing the second-fewest minutes of his 13-year career.

A league source previously confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago that the Clippers’ interest in Young is legitimate, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times. A Clippers scout attended a recent Bulls game despite the fact the teams don’t meet again until April.

Even if nothing materializes there, Young is the type of plug-and-play veteran that fits on any team making a playoff run. Young has been traded three times in his career, so he knows both how disruptive it can be on a family but also how it sometimes can lead to a better fit.

Befitting his reputation as the consummate professional, Young is ignoring the rumors and focused on his current situation.

“We’re very upset we keep losing games, Young said. “It’s hard to win in this league. We have to understand that as a team. We have to face the hardness of the game and take advantage of the opportunities we do have. We need to play harder than other teams. We can play great for 38-40 minutes. But there’s an 8-minute span that can be detrimental to our team.”

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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