The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly fired Tom Thibodeau, who had served as the team’s Head Coach as well as President of Basketball Operations. The move came shortly after the team’s blowout victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news and Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed that it included both of his positions in the organization:
Sources with @JonKrawczynski: Minnesota has fired coach Tom Thibodeau.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 7, 2019
Minnesota has fired President and Coach Tom Thibodeau, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 7, 2019
The press room was reportedly shocked, as they had talked to Thibodeau just moments earlier.
This is shocking news. We are all stunned in the media room.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) January 7, 2019
Tom Thibodeau just gave one of his most pleasant press conferences. He was laughing. I have to imagine this came from out of nowhere.
Assistant coach Ryan Saunders will take over on an interim basis, while GM Scott Layden will take over Thibs’ front office duties, according to Jon Krawczynski, also of The Athletic.
Ryan Saunders will fill in on an interim basis. Layden is the GM, Sources told @TheAthleticMIN— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) January 7, 2019
Thibodeau, 60, was hired by the franchise in 2016 after coaching the Chicago Bulls for five seasons. He endured a rocky tenure during his time with the team, highlighted by a playoff appearance last season. His acquisition of Jimmy Butler was expected to help the Wolves become a contender, but instead an unhappy Butler requested a trade in preseason, while being visibly unhappy. The Wolves eventually completed a trade, but the team has still struggled to a 19-21 record, good for 11th in the Western Conference.
The Wolves play the Blazers four times this season. They lost to Portland by 30 on Nov. 4 and by 8 on Dec. 8, but beat the Blazers by 16 on Nov. 16. The teams play one more time this season, on April 1.