Even if the timing is confusing, it still happened. According to reports, the Minnesota Timberwolves fire Tom Thibodeau midway through his third year with the organization. Thibodeau was the Head Coach and President of the Timberwolves. The Wolves are 19-21 after a 108-86 win over the Lakers Sunday afternoon and two games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Thibodeau led the Wolves to their first playoff appearance since the 2003-04 season, going back to the Kevin Garnett days.
Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news Sunday evening.
Sources with @JonKrawczynski: Minnesota has fired coach Tom Thibodeau.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 7, 2019
Report: Minnesota Timberwolves Fire Tom Thibodeau
The Wolves were Thibodeau’s second coaching stint after spending five seasons with the Chicago Bulls. He will leave Minnesota with an overall record of 97-107. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that CEO Ethan Casson informed Thibodeau of his firing immediately after the game in his office. Thibodeau was shocked at the timing, according to Wojnarowski.
Who Takes Over?
An interim coach for the Wolves has already been named. Ryan Saunders, son of former coach Flip Saunders, will take over while Scott Layden is the General Manager.
A search for a new head coach has seemed to have already begun. Reports say that rumored candidates for the position are Monty Williams and Fred Hoiberg. Williams is currently an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers and Hoiberg was recently fired by the Chicago Bulls. Chauncey Billups has also reportedly been discussed as a candidate for General Manager.
A Possible Inevitable Firing
There always seemed to be a cloud of skepticism over Thibodeau during his tenure in Minnesota. His style of having a short rotation and giving heavy minutes to the starters never seemed to bode well going forward. While he was able to bring in former players such as Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, Rose is the only one who sees action. We already know about the Butler situation. Thibodeau’s firing seemed to be inevitable after the entire Butler fiasco, where he made it clear the organization needed him. Butler is now playing for the 76ers.
For now, the Wolves cannot dwell on this. Work needs to be done if they want to reach the postseason for the second consecutive year. The Western Conference is an absolute bloodbath and just the smallest of bad stretches can take you out of the top eight. Karl-Anthony Towns has stepped up his play as he is the cornerstone of the franchise. But going forward, Thibodeau will no longer be in the picture.