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When NBA coaches get fired, it’s usually after a sub-par or losing season. Sometimes they get fired in the middle of the season. Apparently, they’re fired even after a blowout victory. Tom Thibodeau was surprised, to say the least.
On Sunday afternoon, Coach Thibodeau was relieved of his duties a head coach and president by the Minnesota Timberwolves. CEO Ethan Casson and General Manager Scott Layden were the ones who let Tom know of the team’s decision. The move came only moments after blowing out the Los Angeles Lakers 108-86.
According to league sources, Thibodeau didn’t see this coming. The Timberwolves improved to 19-21 and 14-6 at home. They weren’t the worst team but not a playoff team at his point in the season.
In Thibodeau’s defense, he did lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs for the first time in over ten years. However, they were bounced out contention in the first round against the Houston Rockets.
Minnesota was able to put together a young core with potential. They traded for Andrew Wiggins and drafted Karl Anthony-Towns. Their biggest addition was stealing Jimmy Butler away from the Chicago Bulls.
They even added several veterans to the team. Most notably, Derrick Rose joined the team and scored a career-high 50 points a game. Despite the roster changes, they remained mediocre as a team in the west.
Butler eventually wanted out of Minnesota. Meanwhile, Wiggins and KAT continued to flash greatness but mostly underachieve. Once Butler was traded, Thibodeau thought he would be able to stick around for a little while longer.
Potential candidates emerged quickly for the Timberwolves. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that former Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups are being discussed as potential replacements. The team hasn’t officially reached out to either of them.
If they do offer Bills the GM position, they better offer more money than the Cleveland Cavaliers did. ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported that the Cavs low balled Bills during contract negotiations. They offered $2 million less than what the average GM makes.
Fred Hoiberg would not be surprising hiring because of the relationship he has with Glen Taylor. Taylor has always liked Hoiberg. There are uncertainties surrounding whether he will coach in the NBA or college again. UCLA is expected to aggressively pursue him after recently firing their former coach as well. Nevertheless, the Timberwolves are at least somewhat thankful for what Thibodeau has done.
“We would like to thank Thibs for his effort and wish him the best. These decisions are never easy, but they are necessary to move our organization forward,” Taylor said. While the political statement sounds good, there is no doubt he was more than ready to fire Thibodeau.
When a coach gets fired after a huge victory, it speaks volumes about how Taylor felt about the coach. He likely wanted to decide regardless of the results of the game. The owner had his mind made up. Nevertheless, the Timberwolves are moving on and Coach Thibs is jobless once again.