Chicago Bulls Looking for Seasoned Assistant Coaches: Whom to Woo?

Jan 21, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Nate Tibbetts against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Blazers 118-113. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 21, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Nate Tibbetts against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Blazers 118-113. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

With Randy Brown likely heading back to the front office suite in Chicago, Bulls management will be looking at some new faces to put on the bench next to Fred Hoiberg.

GarPax want the best people helping Fred Hoiberg do his job.

Bulls assistant Coach Jim Boylen — one of those considered for the Indiana Pacers vacancy — will be back with the Bulls after Nate McMillan was chosen as their new head coach. Hoiberg’s own handpicked assistant coach from Iowa State, Charlie Henry, has also been dropped from the bench along with Randy Brown.

Still, the Bulls need really good coaches who can do the things that the Tom Thibodeau staff did rigorously: note down opposing team plays, player tendencies, mismatch possibilities, coaching tendencies and post-game film reviewers.

Mike Dunleavy was the first to point out that the team didn’t do its job studying their opponents’ habits and preparing for games after losing to weak teams.

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Hiring an ex-head coach or two also creates great synergy that often provides exactly what a team needs to make to the next level like when Rick Carlisle hired ex-Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts in 2008 and both formulated an NBA “flow offense” and a better zone defense with a small-ball forward manning the paint. The Dallas Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd went on to beat the high-powered Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.

ESPN has a rundown of some interesting prospects who are good enough to be head coaches, but who might be interested in helping Hoiberg take the Chicago Bulls to the next level as part of his staff.

Nate Tibbetts, Portland Trail Blazers assistant

Tibbetts is like Tom Thibodeau in the sense that he scours opposing teams player tendencies and plays and provides his players a heads-up of what to expect; something Dunleavy complained about with the Bulls current defensive preparation for other teams.

Tibbetts spent four seasons as head coach of the Sioux Falls D-League team in South Dakota, then moved on to the Tulsa 66ers — the Thunder’s D-league team before their recent name change — before coming on to the Portland staff. He’s a coach that loves to prepare for each game, assists players in developing and honing their individual skill sets and makes life easier for his head coach in Portland.

Unlike Thibodeau, he doesn’t bark at his players and has an accommodating demeanor that matches Fred Hoiberg’s “player’s coach” rep. He can help the Bulls become more prepared on defense and cover any of Hoiberg’s blind spots coaching defense. Tibbetts was previously interviewed for the Charlotte Hornets job, which Steve Clifford took and was asked to join Billy Donovan‘s crew in Oklahoma City last year.

He might be a nice prospect working in tandem with Hoiberg.

Nate Bjorkgren, Phoenix Suns assistant

Nate Bjorkgren worked under Jeff Hornacek for the Phoenix Suns. He was previously a winning D-League coach for the Santa Cruz Warriors, Iowa Energy and most recently, the Bakersfield Jam. He is known as someone who can build chemistry with a team quickly even when changing coaching jobs and keep a winning tradition.

With the Bulls having a bit of some team building kinks, recruiting up to a possible five new players next year and shedding dead weight, getting the rebuilt Bulls up to speed with Fred Hoiberg’s system and keeping the locker room in sync may be a priority. If the Bulls condsider trading veteran players for picks with Phoenix, they can raid the assistant coach ranks too as additional sweets.

Ex-D-League champion coaches are becoming a valued prize among NBA coaching staff development insiders in the past three years, especially with Golden State, Portland and other teams getting great mileage from them.

Mike Anderson, Arkansas Razorbacks head coach

Mike Anderson has a winning system that may sync really well with Hoiberg’s own NBA-styled offense. The architect of a full-court press-slash-run-and-gun system called “Forty Minutes of Hell” or “The Fastest Forty Minutes in Basketball,” Anderson perfected what he learned under former Razorback coach Nolan Richardson.

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If the Bulls get him, the team can turn on the pressure during certain points in the game to wear down teams and prevent them from coming back after the Bulls build leads. Bobby Portis thrived under this system as a blitzer of the ball-carrier and he may yet turn Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and even Tony Snell into better defenders.

The NBA Playoffs may be a half-court affair, but Anderson may be that wrench of a defensive coordinator that can help the Bulls new core disrupt tradition both in the regular season and with a possible postseason gig.

Why would Mike Anderson be a good fit helping Fred Hoiberg? Anderson is a genius at rebuilding struggling basketball programs from Missouri to UAB and helped Arkansas return to the NCAA Tournament (along with Bobby Portis).

If the Bulls consider him, it would be better get plenty of tall and long athletes on the wings for the future.

Kirk Hinrich, Ex-Bulls Point Guard

Hinrich may probably hang up his sneakers next year and may be hired as a player development staff member, given the Bulls penchant for bringing old players into their organization. Hinrich can show the new guard recruits how to do their job and even prepare them for games. He may even be offered a spot on the Windy City Bulls staff to learn the ropes running Hoiball, plus defense before moving up.

As a point guard for 13 NBA seasons, Hinrich has played under several coaches and teams, gaining invaluable insights as the second coach on the floor; even if that sounds like a cliche. He should hold his own as an assistant coach better than either Randy Brown or Pete Myers if GarPax decide to bring him aboard to learn the ropes.

Next: Mistakes that Fred Hoiberg can learn from next season and beyond

The Bulls need both better minds preparing for each game helping Fred win and the right players that fit his attacking basketball philosophy. GarPax have their work cut out for them this summer.