Minnesota Timberwolves: If you’re ready to fire Thibs, say goodbye to Derrick Rose

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 12: Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 12: Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves fans have been clamoring for Tom Thibodeau to be fired for some time, but it sure feels as though Thibs and Derrick Rose may be a package deal.

Beginning in 2017, the Minnesota Timberwolves marketing motto has been “All Eyes North.” But if one were to poll the Wolves’ fanbase, the runner-up catchphrase would almost certainly be “Fire Thibs.”

Last month, yours truly wrote about all of the reasons why the Wolves are lucky to have Thibodeau as their coach, but after going 1-7 this month, including another win-less road trip at Portland, Golden State, Sacramento, and Phoenix, the overture to end Thibodeau’s tenure in Minnesota has grown louder and louder.

However, there is another reason to keep Thibs in Minneapolis that perhaps some Timberwolves fans have not considered: if Tom Thibodeau goes, so does Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose.

After Rose was waived by the Utah Jazz last February and his retirement seemingly loomed on the horizon, it was Tom Thibodeau that picked up the phone. Rose finished the season in Minnesota, where he is currently playing on a one-year deal that he signed this summer.

“Thibs really took a chance. He already had a team and a backup point guard with Tyus (Jones),” Rose stated in the locker room after the T-Wolves 119-94 win in Chicago on Wednesday night.

The rejuvenated Chicago native will enter free agency this summer. But this time, he will certainly demand more than just the veteran’s minimum. Eight years removed from his MVP season and seven years removed from his last All-Star appearance, Rose has undergone a renaissance in Minneapolis.

As a leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate, he is currently averaging 18.7 points per game. Additionally, with Jeff Teague sidelined due to an ankle injury, Derrick Rose the starter has helped lead the Wolves to a 3-2 record, including winning the last two games on the road (a rarity this season), highlighted by Rose hanging 24 points on his former team.

Fortunately for Minnesota, Rose has already played seven seasons for Thibodeau, who is also the Timberwolves president of basketball operations. If anyone can convince Rose to stay in Minnesota, Thibodeau is the man for the job.

But if Thibodeau is fired? Gone is Rose’s coach with whom he has spent the majority of his NBA career playing for; gone is the man that brought Rose to Minnesota when no one else would give him a chance.

If Rose were to head into free agency in 2019 without Thibodeau tying him to Minnesota, he could decide to continue his rejuvenated career somewhere else, with one option being back in his hometown of Chicago. After Wednesday night’s win at United Center, during which Bulls fans showered Rose with “MVP” chants, Rose commented in the locker room after the game, “This is home for me. I’ll never leave Chicago. I still have a place here. I’m always going to have a place here.”

Even so, there is plenty of evidence that no one will put in more than Minnesota this free agency. One can’t forget the unceremonious way that Rose was dumped in Chicago the first time, the four knee surgeries, the awkward 2016-17 season in New York, the 14 games he played in Cleveland before being traded, the waiving by the Utah Jazz, and everything that’s happened since.

Rose credited playing for Thibodeau as one reason he enjoys playing in Minnesota, as he told Shams Charania of The Athletic earlier this season: “[t]he last couple years, bouncing around… wanting that communication, that relationship, and that’s one of the reasons that I came back here.”

And while Rose may be raising his son in Chicago, he is focused on the here and now in Minnesota, as he stated after the game against the Bulls on Wednesday: “I try to look forward. You never know what my opportunities are going to be this coming offseason with this (Timberwolves) organization. More than likely, I’ll be back.”

Reinvented Derrick Rose should be an All-Star. dark. Next

Let’s hope his coach is around to convince him to stay.