With March Madness long gone, the NBA postseason has come into the basketball limelight. It’s a time for champions to be crowned, players to sign contracts or become free agents, and for coaches to be hired or fired. The latter has the city of Ames and all of Cyclone Nation around the world on the edge of their seat.
A handful of NBA teams have flirted with the idea hiring Fred Hoiberg as their head coach. Last year it was the Warriors. This year… it’s the Timberwolves, Magic, Pelicans, Nuggets, and Bulls.
So, let’s break down the reasons the beloved Mayor may leave, and see if any of these candidates could be a real fit.
Why would Fred leave?
Money: In just about any job, money talks. While Fred is only in the 2nd year of a 10-year, 20 million dollar deal at ISU, he could likely double his money on the big stage. Whether or not that is a large factor, is something that only Fred knows.
Fulfilling a Lifetime Goal: Hoiberg’s professional career was cut short because of a heart problem, so it’s fairly easy to understand why he would want another crack at the NBA. According to an interview with athletic director Jamie Pollard, he said that upon his hiring, Hoiberg made it clear that one of his goals was to coach in the NBA.
Players Leaving: Fred will have completed a full 4-year recruiting cycle after this season. With Niang, Long, McKay, and Nader all being seniors and a possible NBA-bound Monte Morris, the cupboard will be bare. Hoiberg may not want to go through another rebuilding season; especially after losing recruiter Matt Abdelmassih, who made the move to join Chris Mullin at St. John’s.
There’s No Time Like the Present: The Mayor is at the top of his game, he’s completely turned around the Iowa State program, and he’s got the attention of the NBA. His fast-paced, efficient offense would thrive at the next level (see: Steve Kerr’s offense). He reportedly has potential offers on the table from two of his former teams (Bulls and Timberwolves), with one being from a playoff contender (Chicago), and the other holding the #1 overall pick, there may be no better time than the present.
With all of this said, why would Fred stay?
Ames/Iowa State: He’s the freakin’ Mayor. Ames, Iowa loves Fred Hoiberg, and he loves them right back. It has been his home for years, and he’s got a good set up for him and his family. He’s an Iowa State legend who has a fanbase who cheers louder for him each game than the entire team. Who wouldn’t love that?
The Stress: The NBA is a much longer, more demanding and stressful business. Whether or not the stress is something that mixes well with Holberg’s health is something for his judgement, but some have noted that this is part of the reason we may see him stick around.
The Players: As I mentioned above, there will be a lot of guys leaving in the next year or two… which is exactly why Fred may stick around. This year could be the year. Many have put the Cyclones in their early preseason top 10’s, and with so much talent to make a possible run at the title next season, that may be reason enough for him stay. Also, he may feel like he has have built some good relationships over the years and wants to be loyal to those upperclassmen.
There’s Always the Future: Whether Fred wants to leave tomorrow or in 5 years, there are always coaching vacancies in the NBA. Heck, the Bulls hired Tom Thibodeau in 2010, he put together 5 straight playoff appearances and quality seasons and will likely be leaving. Not only that, but Fred underwent a recent heart procedure, has kids in school, so why would he leave now when he can likely wait it out?
Let’s break down the possible candidates for teams, and see if they’d be a good fit for Hoiberg…
Pelicans and Magic:
From everything I’ve read, Hoiberg has mainly been mentioned with these teams as a piece of leverage for a “coach’s trade”. The Pelicans have to be an appealing pick after making the playoffs this year and being led by potential MVP candidate, Anthony Davis.
The Nuggets rumors have been very quiet and are mere speculation, but after last year’s Brian Shaw debacle, Denver may be looking at any possible solution. While it’s nothing to write home about, it would be interesting to see Hoiberg implement his fast-paced style in the high altitude, where run n’ gun basketball has always been popular.
This is where things get serious.
Fred played for Minnesota for a portion of his career, and after his career ended, he got his start in Minnesota’s front office— so the connections are there. After the draft lottery tonight, the T-Wolves also have some serious bargaining power to offer up in the number one overall pick. On top of that first pick, the Wolves have a great deal of potential and young talent including Anthony Bennett, Zach Lavine, Ricky Rubio, and rookie of the year, Andrew Wiggins.
Let it also be known, that one of Holberg’s former teammates, Kevin Garnett, just returned last season too.
This is where things get scary.
After the Chicago Bulls playoff run came to a disappointing end last week, the already rocky relationship between Coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls front office only got rockier.
On the other hand, Hoiberg has rock solid relationship with the Bulls franchise. Not only did he play as a guard there from 1999-2003, but he also played under the Bulls GM Gar Forman at Iowa State where Forman was an assistant coach and recruiter.
Just about every sports publication out there has noted that if Chicago severs ties with Thibs (which seems nearly inevitable after reading every report), Coach Holberg is at the top of the list.
The Bulls really suffered on the offensive end down the stretch, which would obviously make Hoiberg a great fit. Per rumor, Coach Thibs hasn’t had the best chemistry with the players and has seemed stubborn and hard with the front office. Hoiberg, on the other hand, seems to work well with the players and his staff.
Granted, he isn’t the only candidate for the position either.
Warriors assistant, Alvin Gentry, also seems to be a top runner for the job. Gentry, like Hoiberg, is noted for his offensive prowess, and looks like he could be a long term solution to the Bulls scoring woes.
Also, Gentry considered to be a top candidate with the Pelicans.
Possible Coaching Replacements:
As of right now, there’s no need to jump the gun on any replacements, but if the worst case scenario plays true and Holberg leaves, who may be some possible choices?
The obvious: TJ Otzelberger. Coach Otz did just return to Iowa State, but has been hot on the recruiting trail. He’d be a quick and obvious choice for the Cyclones to put at the helm.
The interesting: Jeff Hornacek. That’s right, the Cyclone alum and current Phoenix Suns head coach has already been in the mix as a replacement coach. Hornacek likes to run a smaller, guard-based line up in Phoenix similar to the style of Hoiberg.
The long-shot: Marcus Fizer? Back in April, Fizer (a Cyclone alum and former NBA player) said in an interview that he was interested in filling the vacant assistant position after Abdelmassih left for St. John’s. Realistically, I don’t think Fizer would be in the discussion, but it’s always fun to throw a wild card out there.
There have been all kinds of different reports, some more credible than others…
One reporting that Holberg already said he would take the Bulls job if he was offered it. Even one deeming that him eating at Old Chicago was indicative of his coaching choice for next season.
How credible are any of these reports? Who knows.
How soon will we know what Fred decides? Who knows.
The only person who truly knows what Fred Hoiberg is going to do … is Fred Hoiberg. The best thing Cyclone Nation can do is sit tight, and support him on whatever decision he makes.
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