Tom Thibodeau has been on the hot seat since before training camp as the Timberwolves team president and coach pushed the boundaries by keeping Jimmy Butler around after he made his trade request incredibly clear.
Still, Thibodeau managed to make it through the Butler trade saga and, briefly, the Wolves looked to be on track after the deal, excelling defensively with Robert Covington inserted into the lineup. However, Minnesota has cooled off significantly of late and despite a 108-86 win over the Lakers on Sunday, the Wolves have decided to move on.
The news of Thibodeau’s firing was first reported by Shams Charania and confirmed shortly after by Adrian Wojnarowski.
The team made the move official on Sunday evening.
Ryan Saunders will reportedly take over as the interim head coach, while Scott Layden will continue to serve as the team’s general manager.
At 18-21, the Timberwolves are currently 11th in the Western Conference and are 6-9 in their last 15 games. Thibodeau’s handling of the Butler trade request and that entire situation seemed to make this the inevitable outcome, but given the way things had apparently stabilized a bit in Minnesota, the firing happening now did come as a surprise — especially after they thrashed the Lakers at home.
Still, the writing has been on the wall for some time and now the Wolves will look to find new leadership both on the bench and in the front office, at least at the president position. Fred Hoiberg, who has spent time with the Wolves organization in the past, will reportedly be a top candidate for one of the positions.
The good news for Wolves fans is that the team apparently won’t make the same mistake as it did with Thibodeau, and Hoiberg wouldn’t be offered both jobs.
Hoiberg has also been listed as a top candidate for the open UCLA job, and that might explain the timing on the Wolves firing Thibodeau now to avoid missing out on him for whatever job they may be targeting him for.