Bulls

Bulls expected to name Fred Hoiberg next coach Tuesday

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Bulls expected to name Fred Hoiberg next coach Tuesday

The NBA’s worst-kept secret has finally revealed itself, as Fred Hoiberg is expected Tuesday to be announced as the new coach of the Chicago Bulls, replacing the fired Tom Thibodeau.

Monday night, the Bulls announced that they will make a major announcement at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, which will air on Comcast SportsNet and stream live on CSNChicago.com. The deal is expected to be in the $5 million range annually.

Hoiberg, most recently coach of Iowa State since 2010, told reporters Monday as he left Ames, Iowa, for Chicago that he had meetings set up for Monday night. He is expected to take over a team that hopes to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1998.

The 42-year old former Bull (1999-2003) has a strong relationship with Bulls general manager Gar Forman and has been rumored to be Thibodeau’s successor for months, and when Thibodeau was dismissed, all the buzz words used by Forman and Bulls VP John Paxson appeared to let everyone know they were making a beeline for Hoiberg.

[MORE BULLS: Van Gundy predicts Hoiberg will coach Bulls in shot at franchise]

The only holdup appeared to be Hoiberg’s health, as he underwent a second open-heart surgery in April, but apparently is OK to make the move to another high-pressure environment in Chicago.

“I coached Fred and was with him five years,” said former NBA coach and current coach at Southern Methodist, Larry Brown, on the “Four Quarters Podcast” with Adam Zagoria and Zach Schonbrun. “Unbelievable respect and admiration for him. He’ll do great. He has a pro background. He knows how to deal with people. The kids he got at Iowa State weren’t always the greatest kids in the world, and he dealt with them and dealt with them extremely well. He can handle personalities. He’s going to a great team.”

Hoiberg spent time in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office before taking a coaching job at Iowa State, earning a 115-56 record that included four NCAA Tournament appearances.

Brown added he spent time with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the two Bulls mainstays, and he feels Hoiberg will be a good fit for a veteran team with strong personalities and a foundation laid by Thibodeau.

[MORE BULLS: Breakdown in communication seemed to play a part in Thibodeau's firing]

He continues the trend of college coaches getting fertile and lucrative NBA jobs, in the mold of Boston’s Brad Stevens (Butler) and Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan (Florida).

There doesn’t seem to be the fear that accompanied making the leap, which was rampant for the last 10 to 15 years. Brown jumped back and forth, becoming one of the most successful coaches in basketball history.

“They always talked about I was the only college coach who went to the NBA and done well,” Brown said. “I had owners that gave me a chance and stuck with me. Most of these guys who’ve gone to the NBA haven’t gotten a lot of time to show how good they can coach. I think Fred will do great.”

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It starts with the relationship with the Bulls executives Forman and Paxson, the one thing most glaring about Thibodeau’s tenure with the Bulls. Both sides were frequently at odds, and Hoiberg will have to win over a fan base that stood behind the coach who took them back to relevance.

“We're really looking for the right fit,” Forman said at the press conference addressing Thibodeau’s dismissal. “I went through some of those things that I talked about, obviously someone that could lead, someone that can communicate at a high level, has a great knowledge of the game. Obviously experience is a plus, as far as coaching is concerned. If they've been a head coach, even more so. But we're not going to limit the search in any way.”

Hoiberg seemed to be the only man on the Bulls’ radar, though, and he's expected to be tasked with elevating the Bulls’ offense and by proxy, helping the franchise take the next step in an Eastern Conference that seems to be ripe for the taking.

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

Anfernee Simons looks more like a ball boy than a 2018 NBA Draft prospect right now. He’s not considered small, what with having a 6-foot-3 frame with a massive 6-foot-9 wingspan, and he weighed in at last week’s NBA Draft Combine at 183 pounds, “heavier” than Lottery-bound guards like Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Collin Sexton.

But there’s plenty of potential to unpack from the soon-to-be 19-year-old, baby-faced combo guard. Don’t let the appearance fool you. Simons is one of the most talented players in the class, and a team patient enough to let him develop at his own pace could reap major benefits in due time.

You won’t find much video on Simons, as the IMG Academy star is preparing to be the first prospect to go preps-to-pros without a year in college since Thon Maker did so in 2016.

Simons, a consensus five-star recruit in the 2018 class, originally committed to Louisville in November 2016 and then decommitted the following September shortly after Rick Pitino was fired. Since he had graduated from Edgewater High School in Florida and was playing a post-grad year at IMG Academy, he became eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft because he is a year removed from high school. That’s where he played this past season, declaring for the draft and signing with an agent in late March.

“The opportunity is there. Me and my parents talked about it a lot and I feel like I’m confident in myself that I’ll be able to make this jump,” he said at last week’s Combine. “So I just felt like, do it now and not waste any time.”

Simons has been on the radars of NBA teams, even if he’s not a household name like Ayton, Doncic and Bagley. He’s currently projected outside of the Lottery, in part because teams haven’t seen him compete against collegiate level talent and because his wiry frame almost surely means time in the G-League as a rookie. But again, the skill set is there.

Simons is a point guard with solid range beyond the arc. He may struggle off the ball because of his size, though that long wingspan and a quick release from his chest should allow him to get off shots. He’s a blur in transition and finishes well at the rim – his 41.5-inch vertical was tied for third best at the Combine, and his three-quarters court sprint was eighth fastest.

He’s a mixed bag defensively. Wingspan is the fun buzz word these days, and that will help him at the next level, but his small frame means there’s work to be done. A strength and conditioning coach will salivate at bringing Simons into the weight room and getting his body NBA-ready.

“Just staying durable through 82 games,” Simons answered when asked about his biggest challenge physically at the next level. “Taking care of your body is real pivotal so I feel like learning how to take care of my body now is a good thing.”

Simons maturely answered that the “unknown” of his game will be both a positive and minus during the pre-draft process. While fellow prospects he may face in team workouts don’t know as much about him and, thus, his game, teams also need to find out more about Simons’ game and off-court habits.

“Coming in young, people don’t know who I am and haven’t seen me play much. That’s the good side about coming in early,” he said. “It could be the same thing (negatively). People haven’t seen me like that, so I feel like they don’t know who I am. They probably think I’m too young to play in the league.”

Simons met with the Bulls and has scheduled a pre-draft workout with them. Though the Bulls feel like their rebuild could go quicker than anticipated – especially if they hit on their No. 7 pick – there could be plenty to gain from drafting for upside on a player like Simons.

Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne will both be free agents in 2019, and Denzel Valentine’s long-term future isn’t set in stone in Chicago. That leaves plenty of openings in the backcourt behind Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. Simons won’t be ready to contribute much in 2018-19, but the Bulls wouldn’t need him to. A handful of outlets projected Simons as a top-5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Bulls could snag him a year earlier, let him develop in Hoffman Estates and bring him up in a year when they’re a step closer to contending.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly), Danny Parkins (670 The Score) and Lauren Comitor (The Athletic) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Manny Machado Mania continues in Chicago. Do the Cubs even need to trade for him to win the World Series this year?

Ricky Renteria has to bench another player for not hustling. Is this becoming a problem on the South Side?

Plus, Lauri Markkanen is named to the All-Rookie team. Could he be the centerpiece of a trade if the Bulls want to acquire a superstar or move up in the draft? 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: