Fred Hoiberg

Central Notes: Lemon, Hoiberg, Brogdon, Cavaliers

Walter Lemon Jr. is making a strong early impression on the Bulls after signing a 10-day contract Friday, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Injuries to seven rotation players gave Lemon a chance to play 31 minutes last night and he responded with 19 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals.

“If you would have told me a couple of days ago that I was going to play 30 minutes against the Raptors — the No. 2 team in the East — on the Bulls’ floor, let alone play 30 minutes in an NBA game, period, I wouldn’t believe you,” said Lemon, a Chicago native. “This is definitely a surreal moment for me. And I’m going to never forget it. I’m going to cherish this moment for the rest of my life.”

Lemon is making a push for a longer contract after signing with the Bulls for the rest of the season. The 26-year-old has been waiting for an opportunity since leaving Bradley in 2014, playing extensively in the G League and overseas.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Jim Boylen is thrilled to see his predecessor back in the coaching ranks, relays Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Fred Hoiberg was officially hired Saturday as the new coach at Nebraska, a little more than four months after his firing in Chicago. “I know he loves coaching college basketball. We’ve had many of those conversations,” Boylen said. “He did a terrific job at Iowa State. It looks like Nebraska is right in his wheelhouse and I’m sure he’ll take that program to the next level. Happy for him and his family.” The hiring is also good news for the Bulls, who can offset Hoiberg’s $3.57MM salary from the $5MM they owe him for next season.
  • Injured Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon is getting around without the aid of crutches or a walking boot, tweets Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It’s an encouraging sign of progress for Brogdon, who has a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot and is expected to miss at least the first round of the playoffs.
  • The Cavaliers are hoping to trade away some salary so they can try their luck in the free agent market this summer, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.

Fred Hoiberg, University Of Nebraska Nearing Deal

Fred Hoiberg is the heavy favorite to become the next men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska, reports Evan Daniels of 247 Sports. “This shouldn’t take long,” a source told Daniels.

Hoiberg feels like the gig “just fits him,” a source close to the situation tells Stadium’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link). The school parted ways with Tim Miles, who has been their coach for seven seasons, earlier today.

Hoiberg, who previously led Iowa State to four straight tournament appearances, most recently served as the Bulls‘ head coach for four seasons. He didn’t find much success at the professional level, owning a record of 115-155 with Chicago.

And-Ones: Hoiberg, Morrow, Summer League, Hamilton

Former Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg is expected to be a frontrunner for Nebraska’s coaching job if and when the Huskers part ways with current coach Tim Miles, a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). There has been contact between Nebraska and Hoiberg, according to Chris Basnett of The Lincoln Journal Star, who confirms that the former Bulls coach would be a “strong candidate” for job if Miles is dismissed.

A source tell Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link) that Hoiberg would definitely “entertain” the Nebraska job if it’s offered to him, but it’s not entirely clear if he’d accept it. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, Hoiberg’s top choice would be to coach in the NBA. However, there’s a sense that he’d likely prefer to coach in the NCAA rather than work in an NBA front office.

As we wait to see what’s next for Hoiberg, here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA sharpshooter Anthony Morrow has signed on to participate in the BIG3 this summer, the league announced on Tuesday (via Twitter). Morrow, a career 41.7% three-point shooter in 564 NBA games, last played in the league during the 2016/17 season, appearing in 49 games for the Thunder and Bulls.
  • All 30 NBA teams will be represented at this year’s Summer League in Las Vegas, and a pair of international teams will join them. According to an Associated Press report, the Chinese and Croatian national squads will participate in the event. China is expected to use the Vegas Summer League as a tune-up for the 2019 World Cup; Croatia didn’t qualify.
  • Former Thunder and Hawks guard Daniel Hamilton has signed an NBA G League contract, per Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). Hamilton is eligible to be claimed off waivers, with the NBAGL postseason right around the corner.

And-Ones: Hoiberg, Donaghy, All-Star Game

Shortly after being dismissed by the Bulls earlier this season, Fred Hoiberg told ESPN that he’d be focused on finding a coaching job, rather than seeking a front office position, when he resumes his career. However, Hoiberg’s stance on his next job has softened a little recently, as Travis Hines of The Ames Tribune details.

“If the right front office opportunity did come around, I would potentially look at that,” Hoiberg said. “When I was just getting out of coaching (the Bulls), that was the first thing on my mind and still is. But if the right front office opportunity came about, that is something I would look at.”

While Hoiberg said he appreciated the opportunity to spend time with his family this year, he admitted that he misses the “grind” of coaching, adding that he’d be open to a college head coaching position as well, despite his distaste for the recruiting process.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Earlier this week, Scott Eden of ESPN.com published a fascinating piece laying out how former NBA referee Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games. The NBA pushed back against that narrative, however, arguing today in an official response that Eden’s story “adds little to the existing record” and contending that much of the new material in the report is inaccurate or misleading.
  • The Knicks weren’t the only team whose deadline moves impacted their summer cap projections. Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes a look at several of the clubs whose offseason outlook was affected by this month’s trades.
  • Back in the fall, the NBA G League announced it would offer a handful of “select contracts,” worth $125K, to elite prospects coming out of high school. Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores how those contracts might work, and how those players might be assigned to G League teams.
  • In the wake of a fairly underwhelming All-Star Game in Charlotte, veteran broadcaster and former head coach Jeff Van Gundy said he’s in favor of eliminating the game, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I would name All-Stars, I would have All-Star weekend, they have all these things, introduce them … the players are great, they should be applauded,” Van Gundy said. “But to take this game and shoot 160 threes, it’s an embarrassment”

Wolves Notes: Hoiberg, Saunders, Wiggins, Thibodeau

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is trying to quell speculation that Fred Hoiberg is in line for a coaching or front office job with the organization, relays Danny Lawhon of The Des Moines Register. Hoiberg, who was fired by the Bulls last month, has past experience with Minnesota, both as a player and an assistant GM. But during a trip to Iowa today to see the team’s G League affiliate in action, Taylor emphasized that he is committed to seeing what interim coach Ryan Saunders can do.

“My goal would be that Ryan would be successful,” Taylor said. “That would be the ideal thing for us.” Saunders, the youngest coach in the league at age 32, got off to a good start Tuesday with a win at Oklahoma City.

Taylor told reporters he reached out to Hoiberg after he was fired in Chicago last month, but hasn’t talked to him since the Wolves dismissed Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.

“We had already made up our mind on Ryan (as interim coach), because Ryan has worked with these players, been there all year,” Taylor said. “That was the easiest way to make the transition.”

There’s more Timberwolves news to pass along:

  • Saunders didn’t get much time to prepare before taking the reins as head coach, writes Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. He left the Target Center after Sunday’s win over the Lakers, but was asked to return and learned that Thibodeau has been fired. He ran his first practice Monday and had his first game as head coach last night. “With not a lot of sleep, coffee and not a ton of food,” he said of the process. “There wasn’t much time to do anything other than prepare. Really just trying to dive into the work. And talking to the team, to meet with the players and get their thoughts on things.”
  • Saunders held individual meetings with each player on the roster, including one in which he encouraged Andrew Wiggins to become more assertive on the court, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Wiggins responded Tuesday with 40 points and 10 rebounds. “He’s excited. We’re excited for him,” Wiggins said. “To get this win for him, I know it means a lot to him and his family. We’re going to keep at it.”
  • Thibodeau will probably have to be successful as an assistant again before he gets another head coaching job, states Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. He cites Thibodeau’s strained relationship with the front offices in both Minnesota and Chicago as reasons that other teams will be reluctant to give him much power right away.

O’Connor’s Latest: Spurs, Porzingis, Sixers, Wolves

The Spurs are viewed by front office sources around the NBA as a team with “significant interest” in Kristaps Porzingis, reports Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Porzingis will be a restricted free agent this summer and while the Knicks are expected to retain him, they may be pushed by rival suitors if they’re unwilling to put a fully guaranteed maximum salary offer on the tables themselves.

Of course, as O’Connor acknowledges, San Antonio isn’t particularly well positioned to make Porzingis a lucrative long-term offer. Even if they waive and stretch Pau Gasol, who has a partially guaranteed salary for 2019/20, the Spurs will have about $96MM+ in guaranteed contracts on their books for next season.

That $96MM+ figure doesn’t account for San Antonio’s first-round pick or any other cap holds. Assuming a projected salary cap of $109MM, the team would need more than $27MM in room to offer Porzingis his maximum salary. In other words, even if the Spurs’ does have serious interest in the Knicks’ young big man, they’d have to reshape their roster substantially to go after him — New York’s top competition for Porzingis may ultimately come from elsewhere.

Here’s more from O’Connor:

  • While Jimmy Butler‘s issues with the Sixers‘ offensive system appear real, league sources tell O’Connor that the All-NBA swingman has “developed a good relationship” with Philadelphia stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. On Monday night, we passed along Butler’s comments on Brett Brown and the coach’s system.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns said on Monday that no one saw the firing of Tom Thibodeau coming, and it seems that doesn’t just apply to the Timberwolves‘ players — sources tell O’Connor that the decision came as a shock to many in the organization, and some staffers are “in limbo with no idea about what will happen next.”
  • According to O’Connor, league sources believe Fred Hoiberg will be a top candidate for the Timberwolves‘ permanent head coaching position, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Sunday. However, there have been no formal conversations between Hoiberg and owner Glen Taylor about the job, and the club is expected to wait until the offseason to make any decisions on its full-time coach and general manager. For now, coach Ryan Saunders and GM Scott Layden will remain in those roles.

Hoiberg To Seek Coaching Job, Not Front Office Role

After being fired by the Bulls earlier this season, Fred Hoiberg appears to be taking his time to determine his next step. When he does get serious about lining up his next job though, he’ll be seeking a coaching role – either in the NBA or in college – rather than a front office position, he tells Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

“My passion is in coaching,” Hoiberg said, “and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”

In the wake of Tom Thibodeau‘s firing in Minnesota on Sunday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski identified Hoiberg as someone who could be in contention for the Timberwolves’ GM or head coaching job, given team owner Glen Taylor‘s fondness for him. Before he coached in Iowa State and Chicago, Hoiberg served as an assistant GM in Minnesota’s front office, so a return to a management role wouldn’t be out of the question.

Still, a report today indicated that the Wolves have no immediate plans to pursue Hoiberg as their coach or GM. And given Hoiberg’s comments to Lowe, it sounds like he’ll exhaust his potential coaching opportunities before he gives serious consideration to taking another front office job.

As for what those head coaching opportunities might look like, Hoiberg will probably have to wait until the spring, when a number of NBA teams and NCAA programs figure to conduct full-fledged coaching searches. After Hoiberg was let go by the Bulls, reports suggested he’d prefer to remain in the NBA’s coaching ranks, but he tells Lowe that’s not necessarily the case.

“I am not prioritizing one over the other in respect to the NBA and college,” Hoiberg said. “The jobs are so different that you cannot compare them, so I plan on evaluating whatever opportunities may come independently.”

Latest On Tom Thibodeau, Wolves

Contrary to a report that emerged last night in the wake of Tom Thibodeau’s firing in Minnesota, former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is not an “immediate candidate” to become the team’s next coach or president, a source tells Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Interim coach Ryan Saunders will be given an opportunity to earn the job on a permanent basis, Krawczynski adds, and he has strong support from his players, who respect his work ethic and welcome his approachable nature as a change from Thibodeau. The organization will consider hiring an assistant who has experience as a head coach to help Saunders with the challenges of his new position.

GM Scott Layden was retained last night and will likely remain in place for the rest of the season, but he may need the team to make the playoffs to keep his job beyond that.

While the Wolves have a disappointing 19-21 record, the decision to part with Thibodeau was based on business as much as basketball, Krawczynski writes. The coach had become unpopular with fans, who routinely booed him every time his name was announced in pre-game introductions. Even worse, they were staying away, as Minnesota has dropped to 29th in home attendance after ranking 21st last season. The organization didn’t want to keep an alienating presence in place with a season ticket drive looming.

It’s no secret that owner Glen Taylor was unhappy with Thibodeau and Layden over how they handled the situation with Jimmy Butler before he was traded to the Sixers. Taylor commented several times that he believed both men were dragging their feet on Butler’s trade request and that they let the volatile star hijack the team during training camp and the early season.

Thibodeau has long had a reputation of giving heavy minutes to his starters, and several players complained about poor communication over their roles. Krawczynski reports that Gorgui Dieng, who has fallen out of the rotation after signing a huge contract, was “openly seething” in the locker room after Friday’s game. Tyus Jones, Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague have also expressed frustration over their status on the team.

As one of the few remaining coach/executives left in the league, Thibodeau’s standing was also harmed by several personnel decisions that didn’t work out. He was the driving force behind the decision to send Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a draft pick that turned out to be Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls to acquire Butler. He also convinced Taylor to part with Ricky Rubio in exchange for Teague. And of course, he was responsible for bringing Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, his former players in Chicago, to Minnesota to form the “Timber-Bulls.”

Taylor was in Florida last night as Layden and CEO Ethan Casson delivered the news to Thibodeau. Taylor’s only comment came in an official statement from the organization, saying, “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”

Timberwolves Fire Tom Thibodeau

The Timberwolves have fired Tom Thibodeau as their head coach and president of basketball operations, according to Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (via Twitter). After dealing with the Jimmy Butler fiasco, the Timberwolves currently sit at 19-21 and are on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff picture.

Krawczynski is also reporting that Ryan Saunders will take over as head coach on an interim basis while Scott Layden will still serve as the team’s general manager.

Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that Fred Hoiberg is a serious candidate to become the team’s GM or coach. Hoiberg previously served as the Timberwolves’ assistant GM before leaving to be the head coach at Iowa State University. Wojnarowski also believes that Monty Williams may emerge as a serious candidate for the coaching position due to previous interest that the Timberwolves had in bringing Williams in as head coach.

Team owner Glen Taylor spoke to the media about the decision to fire Thibodeau, stating that “we’ve gone up through halfway through the season and I don’t think we’re where we thought we would be or where we think we should be.” Taylor also expressed a desire to make the playoffs, believing that making such a change with half the season left may give the Wolves a chance to do so.

In two and a half seasons with the Timberwolves, Thibodeau had a 96-107 regular season record, leading the club to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2004. However, his decision to acquire Butler from his old team in Chicago ultimately led to his downfall. Although the All-NBA swingman helped Minnesota win 47 games in 2017/18, his offseason trade request – and Thibodeau’s initial reluctance to grant that request – created several weeks of drama within the organization and didn’t reflect well on Thibs.

Thibodeau’s firing represents a continuation of a trend in the NBA’s head coaching ranks. Within the last two years, four head coaches who held president of basketball operations titles within their respective organizations have had those responsibilities removed or have been fired altogether. Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Doc Rivers (Clippers), and Stan Van Gundy (Pistons) were the others. Gregg Popovich of the Spurs is now the only NBA head coach who is also his team’s head of basketball operations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: UCLA Coach, Withey, Delfino, NBAGL

With Steve Alford out as the head coach at UCLA, and the program launching a search for Alford’s replacement, a pair of former NBA head coaches have already been linked to the position.

Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets that there have been “persistent rumbles in NBA coaching circles” that the Bruins would pursue Fred Hoiberg, though it’s not clear if Hoiberg would be open to returning to the NCAA. After he was let go by Chicago earlier this season, reports indicated that Hoiberg wanted to remain in the NBA.

Meanwhile, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that former UCLA guard Earl Watson would have interest in the job. Watson, who coached in Phoenix from 2016-17, has strong AAU ties and was close with Bruins legend John Wooden, Spears notes.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA big man Jeff Withey had been playing in Turkey this season, but he and Tofas Bursa have parted ways, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Withey, who has logged more than 200 regular season NBA appearances, played in nine games for Dallas in 2017/18.
  • An NBA forward from 2004 to 2013, Carlos Delfino had been playing with Fiat Torino this season, but his time with the Italian club came to an abrupt end last week. According to Carchia, Delfino had a heated argument with Fransesco Forni, who is Fiat Torino’s VP and the son of the team’s owner. Forni issued a statement saying that Delfino “almost assaulted” him, and the club opened disciplinary proceedings against the veteran after cutting him. Delfino disputed the notion that there was any sort of physical confrontation and explained his side of the story to Carchia.
  • Former first-round pick Rashad Vaughn has changed NBA G League teams, with the Delaware Blue Coats acquiring him today from the Texas Legends, per a press release.
  • Speaking of the G League, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days recently took a look at some of the challenges facing Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who is taking over as the NBAGL president.