The Minnesota Timberwolves’ season began with a showdown between Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau. Forty games later, both are gone.
The Timberwolves, who traded their All-Star swingman Butler in November, fired Thibodeau as coach and president of basketball operations Sunday after his team routed the short-handed Lakers 108-86.
“We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him all the best,” Minnesota owner Glen Taylor said in a statement. “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”
Thibodeau, a former NBA coach of the year in Chicago, didn’t last much longer in Minnesota than his former star player Butler, who was shipped out after less than 18 months. Thibodeau had a losing record in almost 2½ seasons, going 97-107. He’ll be replaced by 32-year-old assistant Ryan Saunders, the son of former Timberwolves coach and executive Flip Saunders, on an interim basis.
Minnesota general manager Scott Layden will run the team’s basketball operations.
Former Timberwolves guard Fred Hoiberg, who was fired as Chicago’s coach last month, reportedly is a serious candidate for either of the team’s roles.