Minnesota Timberwolves, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: The Minnesota Timberwolves finally fired Tom Thibodeau

Nearly two months after the ugly Jimmy Butler situation was finally resolved, the Minnesota Timberwolves have fired Tom Thibodeau.

It isn’t surprising that the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to fire Tom Thibodeau after his botched handling of the Jimmy Butler trade situation and the Wolves’ disappointing 19-21 record. The exact timing is a little weird, though.

Butler finally got his demanded trade almost two months ago, in early November. And although Minnesota is under .500 on the season, the Wolves won their last two games, including a nice blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers on the same day Thibs was fired.

It appears a pursuit of former Minnesota assistant general manager Fred Hoiberg for either a coaching or front office spot could be the reason for the move happening now. As part of Adrian Wojnarowski’s reporting on the situation, the Timberwolves want Hoiberg to either be their coach or general manager, but not both.

That’s a positive development for Wolves fans. The combination of coach and general manager is almost always ill-fated, and it certainly was in Minnesota. A team’s executive needs to look farther in the future than any coach is really able to do.

More immediately, Ryan Saunders will be taking over as the interim head coach and Scott Layden will continue to serve as general manager for now. Saunders is young at 32 years old, and this is his first time at the helm of a team.

It’s hard to say what this move will mean for the rest of this season in Minnesota. Thibs did not use Wolves franchise centerpiece Karl-Anthony Towns nearly well enough on offense, and Saunders could improve Minnesota by involving Towns more. Still, the inexperienced interim head coach doesn’t have the defensive chops Thibs does, and the Wolves might end up suffering from that for the rest of the season.

A quick spike in performance is likely, as usually happens to a spooked team after a coach gets fired. After that, it’ll be up to Saunders. There’s more mileage to get out of this roster than what Thibs was able to coax out of it, but things could be worse too. Either way, at least now the Timberwolves will be set up to properly build around Towns going forward.

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