Glen Taylor, the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves had enough and decided it was time to step in and shake up his NBA franchise on Monday, firing Basketball President and Head Coach, Tom Thibodeau. Beyond its timing, which was announced after the Wolves trounced the Los Angeles Lakers 86-108, it was a move that was perceived to be a matter of when and not if.
Thibodeau had been criticized for his handling of Jimmy Butler, whom he traded for from the Chicago Bulls, a player he helped develop during his time there. He also kept on bringing in former talent that he was thought to have had favoritism for, such as Taj Gibson and former MVP Derrick Rose, both of whom also came from his Chicago-era. Thibodeau’s preferential treatment of said players could have come at the expense of his connecting with the team’s younger stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Needless to say, his time with the team was not something that could be considered smooth sailing, by any stretch of the imagination.
Ryan Saunders has been named as the team’s interim head coach. At 32 years of age, Saunders is currently the youngest active coach in the league. Ryan, who has been an assistant coach for the team since 2014, is the son of famed NBA coach Flip Saunders, who was at the helm of the franchise from 1995 to 2005.
Scott Layden has been appointed as the team’s new general manager. Prior to his firing, Thibodeau held both coaching and general managerial duties for the Timberwolves, a dual role that may have contributed to certain issues that the franchise faced over the last couple of seasons.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, former Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg is in consideration for either head coach or GM. He was an assistant GM for the Timberwolves before his stint with Iowa State. Hoiberg, however, has publicly stated that his heart is in coaching and is not interested in front office position. We will see how this part of the team’s storyline unfolds in the coming weeks.
While we may be smack dab in the middle of the 2018-19 season, it’s not too late for the team to start fresh. They just traded Jimmy Butler to the Sixers for Robert Covington before 2018 ticked by, so whoever takes over will have a less toxic (Jimmy Butler) locker room environment to work with. The team’s new focus will likely be aimed at developing Karl-Anthony Towns and creating a culture and foundation for him to want to stay with them for the long-term. More moves will be made but the Timberwolves will be in for an adjustment period as they find a new Alpha to lead the pack.