Ready To Embrace More Modern Approach After Tom Thibodeau’s Departure
Timberwolves Ready To Embrace More Modern Approach After Tom
January 14, 2019
The timing might have been strange but the decision to fire Minnesota
Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau is unsurprising. Given the fact
the Wolves had just triumphed over rivals Los Angeles Lakers by a
22-point margin, you’d think most head coaches would be able to enjoy
the post-game press conference and look forward to the next game. Not
so Thibodeau, who was stripped of his position, joining Fred Hoiberg
and Tyronn Lue as the NBA’s trio of sacked head coaches in 2018-2019.
At the end of last season, the Timberwolves were in high spirits having
traded for Jimmy Butler. But the team’s new star grew tired of the
direction the franchise was going under Thibodeau, aiming criticism at
the team’s younger players and questioning their will to win. Forcing
through a trade to the 76ers in exchange for Dario Saric and Robert
Covington was a sign of discontent and further acknowledgment that not
all was well under their former head coach. For many – including Reid
Forgrave at Cbssports.com
– the team was heading in the wrong direction, a fact highlighted by
Butler’s short-lived stint in Minnesota.
Some felt Thibodeau’s time at the franchise might come to an end in
2019 if the Timberwolves failed to make the playoffs but the
deterioration of his relationship with Butler has accelerated his
And as Forgrave says, the writing was on the wall for this “old-school
coach in a new-school NBA”. Indeed, the CBS Sports correspondent isn’t
the only commentator or fan to think Thibodeau was overworking his
staff. Of those NBA stars with most minutes played last season, three
of the top 14 players were Timberwolves (Butler, Towns and Wiggins).
Thibodeau is well-respected. After all, he oversaw a 13-year playoff
drought end by posting a 47-35 record in 2018, with Butler starring
alongside fellow All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. But he was seemingly
ignorant of the benefit of in-season rest leaving the Timberwolves
short of energy in the postseason.
Even in regards to three-pointers, the head coach seemed stuck in the
past, handcuffing his team to short-range points leaving the Wolves in
last position for attempted shots from distance in the whole of the NBA
For now, Ryan Saunders is in charge as interim coach with the team just
below .500 and chasing the eighth-place Lakers in the Western
Conference for a postseason berth. It remains to be seen how having the
son of former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders in charge will affect
the team’s style, approach or tactics.
Their slim chance of winning the division – at 67.00 on MoPlay.co.uk – does still
put the Timberwolves as sixth favorites, suggesting the betting markets
expect Saunders to deliver a playoff berth. However, the next few games
will give a better indication of where this team is post-Thibodeau.
The surprising factor isn’t that Thibodeau lost his position as head
coach, rather the timing of the dismissal. Notes sbnation.com,
due to owner Glen Taylor’s relationship with Fred Hoiberg, who is
available after being dismissed by the Chicago Bulls in December, the
Timberwolves may already have an eye on their replacement. Speed is of
the essence though, as Hoiberg has been linked with the currently
available UCLA job. The ball is in Taylor’s court. But that is exactly
what he wanted.