It was a tough season for the Minnesota Timberwolves as the team lost their head coach, Flip Saunders, to cancer at the beginning of the season. Sam Mitchell took over as the interim head coach. Mitchell would lead the team to a 29-53 record and finished 13 overall in the Western Conference. The team would finish fifth in the Northwest Division that includes Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers. For the twelfth year in a row, the Timberwolves missed the playoffs.
The Timberwolves owner, Glen Taylor, decided not to hire Sam Mitchell as the head coach but looked to hire a coach that has proven himself in the league. Timberwolves have been at the bottom of the NBA for a long time but finally has some talented players that could make Minnesota relevant again with the right coach.
The Minnesota Timberwolves hired Tom Thibodeau Wednesday, April 20 as the new head coach and president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves hired the 58-year-old coach over other candidates of Jeff Van Gundy (ESPN analyst) and several college coaches like Tom Izzo of Michigan State.
Thibodeau is coming back to where it all began for him coaching in the NBA. His first assistant coaching job was with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1989 where he was hired by head coach Bill Mussleman. He would serve two years here in Minnesota before leaving for a different position.
The Timberwolves hired Thibodeau to a five-year, $40 million contract. Thibodeau takes over a young but talented team that is highlighted by Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng and Zach Lavine. Also, the team gets a lottery pick this June in the NBA draft. The Timberwolves will be able to add another young talent piece to this roster and keep building a strong core of players.
This will be Thibodeau’s second head coaching job in the NBA. His first was when he coached the Chicago Bulls from 2010-2015. Before he received his first coaching job with the Bulls, Thibodeau was an assistant for several teams that included Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, New York Nicks, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Thibodeau is a defensive-minded coach, which is good for the Timberwolves who ranked 23rd for the most points allowed in a game. As a coach for the Bulls, Thibodeau was able to get all his players to buy into his system which helped turn the Bulls into a top defensive unit. Thibodeau is hoping to get the young players to play some stronger defense that could make this young Timberwolves team very dangerous.
Tom Thibodeau is well known in the NBA world, as he has been an assistant head coach and head coach for 26 years. Many players that have played for Thibodeau have praised him highly as a coach. Some of these players include Kevin Garnett, Yao Ming and Joakim Noah.
Thibodeau has proven that he can coach in this league. During his five year span as coach for the Bulls he collected 255 wins and 139 losses. He led the Bulls to the playoffs each year as coach. Timberwolves fans will be hoping for the same success, as it has been 12 years since the Timberwolves have been in the playoffs.
*All stats are from ESPN