Minnesota Timberwolves Sacks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau: Hoiberg, Williams, Billups To Replace Thibs?
Tom Thibedeau, head coach and President of Basketball of Operations of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has reportedly been relieved of his duties just hours after his team routed the Los Angeles Lakers. Thibodeau compiled a 97-107 win-loss record in his 2-plus seasons with the Timberwolves.
Last season, the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year led Minnesota to the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-2005 season, and the future seemed bright for the long-suffering basketball team from the Twin Cities. However, the Jimmy Butler situation during the off-season and the eventual trade that sent Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers seemingly derailed the rebuilding process envisioned by Thibodeau. Now comes the sacking of Tom Thibodeau.
NEWS: Timberwolves relieve Tom Thibodeau of his duties. Assistant Coach Ryan Saunders will assume the role of interim head coach for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. Full release: pic.twitter.com/sleIVTH1sM — Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) January 7, 2019
Despite the off-season drama, Butler played relatively well for the Minnesota Timberwolves early in the season. His relationship with the Wolves' management, Thibodeau, and his teammates seemed to be on the mend. Eventually, Butler was traded to the 76ers and had an immediate impact for the Eastern Conference contender.
However, ESPN recently reported that Butler has clashed with the Sixers head coach Brett Brown over his role with the team and this led fans to believe that the real problem might have started with the disgruntled All-Star guard and not with Thibodeau.
Regardless, Tom Thibodeau's handling of the Butler situation during the offseason and the Wolves' 19-21 mediocre start may have contributed to his firing. Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor noted that the team failed to live up to the management's expectations. "I don't think we're where we thought we would be or where we think we should be," said Taylor.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, despite its struggles, remains just 2.5 games out of the playoffs. And while the team is already fighting an uphill battle, the Wolves management must now look for Thibodeau's replacement. Meanwhile, Chris Mannix of the Sports Illustrated reported that Ryan Saunders, son of former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders, will replace Tom Thibodeau albeit on an interim basis.
Wolves elevate Ryan Saunders—son of the late Flip Saunders—who is a rising star in the coaching ranks. Enough time for him to win full-time job outright. https://t.co/QgAKQaqtzU — Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) January 7, 2019
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the former Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg and the Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams are the early front-runners to take over the head coaching reins for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The name of ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups has also come up as a possible replacement for Thibodeau.
Minnesota GM Scott Layden will remain in place for now, but his future is uncertain. Fred Hoiberg and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups have been discussed internally as possible candidates for GM or head coach, per sources. Hoiberg appears focused on a return to NBA coaching. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 7, 2019
Hoiberg played for the Timberwolves from 2003 to 2005 and was a member of the last Wolves team that made it to the playoffs in 2004. Hoiberg amassed a 115-155 win-loss coaching record for the Bulls. Billups, a key member of the Detroit Pistons team that won the 2004 NBA title, also played for the Wolves in the early 2000s. Williams, meanwhile, was one of the favorites to land the Wolves head coaching job before Tom Thibodeau got the nod.
Thibodeau, an assistant coach for the USA Basketball Men's National Team since 2013, is widely regarded as a defensive specialist and has a knack for developing players. As an assistant coach, he helped the Boston Celtics win the 2008 NBA Finals.