The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly fired head coach and president Tom Thibodeau following Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the firing itself is not surprising, for a number of reasons that we’ll dive into shortly. But the timing is certainly peculiar.
While the Wolves have been playing up-and-down basketball and largely treading water for a little over a month, Minnesota won two games in under 48 hours and had just wrapped up beating the Los Angeles Lakers handily in a Sunday matinee before Thibodeau was given his pink slip.
Shortly after Woj broke the news, he followed it up with a couple of thoughts related to an eventual replacement.
Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reports that Ryan Saunders will serve as the interim head coach for the time being with Scott Layden — Thibodeau’s handpicked right-hand man — will stay on as general manager.
Krawczynski also shared the following in regards to the timing of the firing.
It’s unclear what, exactly, Krawczynski means in terms of “urgency”. Presumably, he means that the team has a sense of urgency to win, and while a 19-21 start to the season isn’t great, it isn’t like they’ve been worse since trading their best player.
Of course, this decision certainly hearkens back to the fact that Thibodeau was more than comfortable with letting an entirely uncomfortable and toxic situation fester prior to trading Butler. While that’s a perfectly fair reason to jettison Thibs, it’s odd that owner Glen Taylor waited until the team was 27 games removed from the deal before pulling the trigger.
We’ll have plenty of coverage over the next few days on any names that the Wolves may be looking to bring in on a permanent basis. One thing to note about the firing coming with three-plus months remaining in the regular season is that it gives Saunders ample opportunity to make a case for the position. At just 32 years old, it would be a surprise if that’s where Taylor landed — especailly given the apparent “urgency” — but it can’t be ruled out.
If the Wolves do eventually look outside the organization, it will certainly be after the season when a move is actually made. And here’s hoping they look beyond their apparent runner-up from the last search (Monty Williams) and a former player and front office employee from the past (Fred Hoiberg).
. You brought fans Jimmy Butler and one playoff appearance, but somehow, the bitterness of being a Timberwolves fan isn’t any less bitter. It’s just … a different kind of bitterness.