As they look at another reset in key areas and try to get back to the playoffs, here are five offseason needs for the Minnesota Timberwolves
The acquisition of Jimmy Butler on draft night in 2017 yielded the desired result, as the Minnesota Timberwolves won 47 games and ended a lengthy playoff drought in 2017-18.
But cracks emerged immediately, as Butler apparently said he wanted out right after that first-round playoff exit, wouldn’t sign a contract extension and then went scorched earth in order to force a trade. That trade eventually came, in November, to the Philadelphia 76ers. But the damage to the Timberwolves’ season was done.
The Timberwolves also had a coaching change last season, as Tom Thibodeau was fired in January and replaced on an interim basis by Ryan Saunders. The team went 19-21 under Thibodeau and 17-25 under Saunders.
The Timberwolves have a significant building block in Karl-Anthony Towns, who not coincidentally performed as one of the best players in the NBA after Butler was traded. But there are a lot of questions otherwise, including who will lead the front office and be the coach next season.
With the lottery coming in May, and the draft in June followed closely by the start of free agency, the Timberwolves must address these five areas.
5. Hire a president of basketball operations
Despite being deemed a good hire when he was brought in, it was not surprising that Thibodeau failed in the dual role of coach and team president. He gets credit for making the deal for Butler, but the way that went off the rails after only one season falls on Thibodeau’s lack of ability to connect people.
Clippers general manager Michael Winger has taken himself out of consideration for Minnesota’s president of basketball operations post. But Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth, Nets assistant general manager Trajon Langdon, Rockets executive VP of operations Gersson Rosas and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups remain as candidates for the job.
The primary question in the hiring of a new team president resides at the feet of owner Glen Taylor. He has proven he can be sold a bill of goods (see the hiring of David Kahn as general manager and Andrew Wiggins promising he’ll work harder with a max contract awaiting him). So it’s worth wondering if that naiveté will land the wrong candidate, or if certain constraints will push away the right candidate.
Despite it being No. 5 on this list, hiring a new front office leader is the first, and perhaps most important, domino for the Timberwolves’ offseason.