Stacy Bengs / Associated Press
The only surprise over the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday afternoon on Tom Thibodeau was the time.
Between the dysfunctions that surrounded the team since September September The demand of the trade and the largely disappointing game of the team worked as a foregone conclusion that Thibodeau would retire at the end of the season as head coach and president.
After the butler drama (the four-time All Star was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on November 1
Minnesota announced the move just hours after a 108-86 Overcoming the Los Angeles Lakers and surprising the entire NBA, co-coach Ryan Saunders, son of former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, will act as the interim coach, with athletes Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania reporting on the team's decision. 19659008] Shams Charania @ ShamsCharania
Sources with @ JonKrawczynski: Minnesota has shot coach Tom Thibodeau, and seasons have been at the top in Minnesota ke in absolute failure. Last year, in his first butler-reunited season, he led the franchise to his first playoff appearance since 2004. But the team never lived up to expectations.
When he took up his job in spring 2016, Thibodeau named the core including back-to-back overall and the winners of the rookie of the year, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, "the best junior players in the NBA "- To be legitimate competitors in the Western Conference, just as he did with the Chicago Bulls team, which was in its first season as head coach in the years 62 to 20 before the Eastern Conference final and in the years 2010/11 as head coach stood.
promising rookie season and is now known more for his gigantic contract than for his influence in court. Towns sometimes looked like the all-NBA talent he promised, lately. He has double doubles in his last seven games, including a 20-point, 20-rebound performance in a December 26 win over the Chicago Bulls. In the weeks since the butler trade, Towns has played a stronger role in the crime, and the results have shown that.
Defensive the Timberwolves have disappointed. This side of the ball was Thibode's # calling card in Chicago, and his Bulls teams regularly ranked in the top five. In Minnesota, Thibodeau had no defenders in the top half of the league despite a strong group of players. The Timberwolves were the league's fourth-worst defender in Thibodeau's first season as coaches and the sixth worst last season. At the time Thibodeau was shot on Sunday, they finished 17th in the NBA and allowed 109.1 points per 100 possessions per NBA.com.
Stacy Bengs / Associated Press
Their underperformance is confusing.
Wiggins has the athlete and physical resources to be a solid defender, and Towns was confident in his 2015/16 rookie season before he retired. Signed in summer 2017, veteran Big Taj Gibson has long been one of the best defenders in the league. That's before Butler, a defender all over the world, joined before last season. Butler's trade to Philadelphia brought back Robert Covington, who made the first-ever All-Defensive team last year.
A coach with Thibodeeau's defensive reputation could have matched at least an average defensive strength in the league given these qualities. He should have turned the Wiggins into an elite stopper, which he was meant to be to help Towns move from a productive offensive young center to a two-way MVP to install a defensive team concept that would make the best of everyone
But his strong, unyielding personality never quite matched the calmer nature of Wiggins and Towns, and the self-inflicted Butler drama did not help. Thibodeau would either have to act as a butler before the season started or have kept him away from the team indefinitely while negotiating a deal. Instead, he hoped in vain to convince Butler that he wanted to stay.
This stubbornness was Thibodeeau's ultimate ruin in his two roles. As a leader, he insisted on bringing in his former Bulls players, including Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, and refused to swap Butler until his leverage increased as he had the wrong hope of repairing the relationship. As a coach, he has never gotten used to the modern game, and the slow, gritty style that was so effective in Chicago has proved inadequate by the way the game is played in 2019.
Like Rose's resurrecting play and Town's latest hot series. The Timberwolves are by no means from the playoff picture – with 19-21 they are only two games behind the Lakers for the eighth starting place in the Western Conference.
The timing of the change after their victory was unexpected. But at half time of the season, Taylor decided that he had seen enough that Thibodeau would not be the one to reverse an organization that has been in flames for over a decade. And since Thiboda's tenure was defined more by disappointment and malfunctioning than by the kind of defensive turn he promised, it's hard to blame him.
Sean Highkin covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and is currently working in Portland. Follow him on Twitter @highkin .