Former Chicago Bulls and Iowa State Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg told ESPN on Monday that he'd prefer to stay in coaching -- at either the college or pro level -- rather than return to an NBA front-office role.
"My passion is in coaching," Hoiberg said, "and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead."
Hoiberg worked in Minnesota's front office following his retirement as an NBA player, and Wolves owner Glen Taylor has a well-known affection for him, according to league sources. Wojnarowski added that Hoiberg would prefer to remain in the NBA as a coach.
Hoiberg has been a rumored target for UCLA's head-coaching job. He went 115-56 over five seasons at Iowa State. The Cyclones qualified for the NCAA tournament in Hoiberg's last four seasons there and won two Big 12 conference tournament championships during his tenure.
Hoiberg said he will keep an open mind in searching for his next basketball job.
"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."
The Bulls hired Hoiberg to replace Thibodeau in the summer of 2015. They fired Hoiberg in December after parts of four tumultuous seasons marked by radical year-to-year changes to the team's roster. The Bulls qualified for the playoffs once in Hoiberg's three full seasons.
He inherited the last version of the Derrick Rose-Joakim Noah Bulls in his first season. That team went 42-40 and missed the playoffs by two games amid a hail of injuries. In the offseason, they traded Rose to the New York Knicks and let Noah walk in free agency before retooling around Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. Chicago went 41-41 in the 2016-17 season, made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed and led the top-seeded Celtics 2-0 before losing the next four games. Rondo missed all four losses after injuring his thumb in Game 2.
Two months later, the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 pick in the 2017 draft to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen) -- signaling a full-scale rebuild. Chicago opened the 2017-18 season 3-20; Nikola Mirotic, perhaps the team's best player, did not make his season debut until early December after suffering facial fractures in a preseason altercation with Bulls forward-center Bobby Portis. Chicago then went 14-11 with Mirotic in the lineup until dealing him to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Omer Asik and a first-round pick.
Chicago fired Hoiberg after a 5-19 start to this season. Several key players -- including Dunn, Markkanen, Portis and Denzel Valentine -- missed all or most most of that stretch. The Bulls promoted Jim Boylen from associate head coach to replace Hoiberg. Chicago is 5-11 under Boylen.