The Minnesota Timberwolves have fired head coach and basketball president Tom Thibodeau. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Thibodeau was let go by the front office Sunday night. The firing came after Minnesota’s 108-86 win at home over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thibodeau was hired by the Timberwolves in 2016 after five seasons as the Chicago Bulls’ head coach, and in his two full seasons in Minnesota, the team missed the playoffs and lost in the first round.
At the time of firing, the Timberwolves have a record of 19-21, putting them at 11th place in the Western Conference.
Minnesota CEO Ethan Casson and GM Scott Layden walked into Thibodeau’s office and fired him after the Lakers victory, league sources tell ESPN. Thibodeau was surprised at the timing, had no idea his ouster was imminent. Casson hadn’t been a fan of Thibodeau era.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 7, 2019
When hired, the defensive-minded coach had the task of maturing the team’s young core of Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Thibodeau was able to bring former Bulls players to Minnesota, including Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. The team even acquired star shooting guard Jimmy Butler under Thibodeau.
Despite how strong the roster looked on paper, the Timberwolves have underachieved. Failing to make any real noise in the Western Conference, Butler requested a trade from the team, and he eventually got one in November.
While Minnesota hoped to shake things up by removing the ball-dominant Butler and adding complimentary pieces in Robert Covington and Dario Saric, they haven’t had much success. Since the deal, the Timberwolves have stayed fairly average at a record of 15-12.
Even though the team has struggled to get on the right track, don’t count them out. The west is wide open, and teams like Utah, Portland, Sacramento and others will fight for the seventh and eighth seeds come playoff time. This shakeup could change the culture of the Timberwolves for the better.
If a good coaching fit is found, Towns and Wiggins can continue to refine their games in complementary ways. Rose, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, can also provide the team with veteran leadership come playoff time.