The UCLA Bruins will reportedly part ways with head coach Steve Alford and former Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg could replace him.
The note from Marc Stein builds on insight from other insiders. Adam Zagoria speculated on December 3 that Alford “could be in play” for the Bruins. Jeff Goodman noted that the UCLA job had “intrigued” Hoiberg in the past.
Stein believes that while Hoiberg would prefer to stay in the NBA, it could be hard for him to find another job (via New York Times):
“By all accounts, Hoiberg prefers to stay in the NBA. if he can rather than return to college coaching. But NBA interest, I fear, is going to be limited. That’s my read even if you factor in the belief that, as his Golden Warriors counterpart Steve Kerr recently put it, Hoiberg “never really had a chance” to succeed in Chicago because the personnel for much of his stay so poorly meshed with Hoiberg’s preferred offensive approach.”
According to Stein, the Minnesota Timberwolves are the only NBA team with significant interest in Hoiberg. He played for the team from 2003 until 2005 then retired, taking a job in the front office for the organization.
He spent three years as the assistant general manager for the Timberwolves before becoming their vice president of basketball operations. Hoiberg was then hired as head coach at his alma mater in Iowa State in 2010 before he left for the NBA in 2015.
Other candidates linked to the vacancy at UCLA include Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan, TCU head coach Jamie Dixon as well as University of Nevada head coach Eric Musselman. One likely name to watch is former Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson, who played college basketball for the Bruins.
Brian Hamilton believes that UCLA would prefer Donovan or Musselman over Hoiberg (via The Athletic):
“Maybe Hoiberg isn’t the first call after dismissing one coach with Midwest roots in this scenario, not when one could envision the Bruins shooting the moon for Billy Donovan and then moving on to an extremely attractive Plan B in Eric Musselman, another coach with West Coast roots and NBA experience.”
It would be unusual to see the former NBA coach jump back to the NCAA ranks, though there are worse jobs to take than this one in Los Angeles.