Timberwolves Considered Firing Tom Thibodeau
The acquisition of Jimmy Butler helped head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau guide the Minnesota Timberwolves to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
His continued presence might rip the fragile young team apart.
Butler will reportedly meet with Thibodeau and general manager Scott Laydon on Monday to discuss the discord within the team and his future on it. Months of tension between Butler and young cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins boiled internally last season, leading owner Glen Taylor to consider firing Thibodeau according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Butler-Towns tension is paramount, but it’s hardly the only organizational drama that’s threatening to undermine the franchise’s current structure. Owner Glen Taylor has significant concern with the broader franchise culture under Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden — so much so that Taylor considered changes in the offseason, league sources said. Taylor has privately second-guessed his decision to give Thibodeau full control of basketball operations as a part of hiring him as coach, league sources said.
Butler, a self-made superstar who’s worked his way up from the 30th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft with the Chicago Bulls to dependable role player to star, has clashed with Towns and Wiggins, two No. 1 overall picks over their work ethic.
Towns has yet to sign a five-year, $158 max contract extension and has until the end of October to agree to it before becoming a restricted free agent next summer. This will be the final season of Butler’s contract with Minnesota.
Thibodeau is tasked with walking a perilous line between present and future for a coach who’s never been viewed as flexible. He’s responded by bringing in Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng; all former players he feels he can trust from his days in Chicago.
Those Bulls also ended in strife with Thibodeau canned and his roster scattered to the wind. Butler and Thibodeau helped guide the Timberwolves to playoffs. Can they maintain control long enough to build on last season or will they drive everyone else away?