When Tom Thibodeau was named the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations on April 21, 2016, Wolves fans were, by and large, impressed with the organization’s ability to bring in a “big name” coach.
Virtually everyone was impressed with Tom Thibodeau and what he accomplished with Chicago, and Wolves fans were overcome with excitement as to how he was going to bring stability the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After all, Wolves fans have seen coaches come and go at a high rate, and Thibodeau was thought to be coming to town to teach the young “pups” how to play some defense.
Then again, the pups didn’t stay little for too long, as Thibodeau quickly accelerated the Timberwolves rebuild. Let’s go through the list of moves that Thibodeau made one year ago to accelerate the Wolves rebuild:
June 22, 2017: Timberwolves trade with the Chicago Bulls to acquire Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton, in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen.
July 1, 2017 : Thibodeau signs Jeff Teague to a three-year, $57 million contract, with a player option for year three.
July 2, 2017: Wolves sign Taj Gibson to a two-year, $28 million contract.
July 8, 2017: Minnesota signs Jamal Crawford to a two-year, $8.8 million contract, with a player option for year two.
To conclude, Thibodeau didn’t have any patience for the young Wolves and wanted to bring in some seasoned veterans that would help the Wolves win more games than their 2016-2017 season total of 31 wins.
This group would go on to win 47 games in 2017-2018, but the Houston Rockets made quick work of the Wolves, defeating Minnesota in just five games. Moreover, there are many reasons to question Thibodeau and what he has done to this Timberwolves roster.
First off, he mortgaged the Timberwolves future with hopes to win now.
Given the uncertainty around the Jimmy Butler situation, Wolves fans can’t help but think about what this Wolves team would look like if the Jimmy Butler trade hadn’t taken place.
One could argue that Minnesota would be better off with a core of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Lauri Markkanen, Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, and Tyus Jones (Not to mention the cap room the Wolves would have without Teague, Gibson, or Crawford).
Would the Wolves have been better off to avoid the Butler trade and keep the young core together? Hind-sight is always 20/20, but it’s an idea that we can’t help but think about.
The Timberwolves started off the Tom Thibodeau era with a lot of optimism and excitement to see how he would transform this roster. Well over two years have passed since Thibodeau was brought on to coach and to be the president of basketball operations; I don’t believe that there has been a drearier time to be a Wolves fan.
Indeed, there should be excitement surrounding a team that has two All-NBA talents, a young capable player in Andrew Wiggins, and a sufficient supporting cast. But there doesn’t seem to be a sense of trust coming from the current Wolves regime to get the most out of this roster.
It’s too late to happen this offseason, but Glen Taylor should be seriously re-evaluating the current structure of the Timberwolves. Thibodeau has given Minnesota little reason to remain positive.
Wolves fans, do we want this guy running the team?