Report: Wolves in “serious talks” with Tom Thibodeau to become head coach, President of Basketball Operations

tomthibodeauAround 1:30 PM on Wednesday, 4/13, reports began trickling out that Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell might not return to the team after its season concluded. About nine hours later, following a 144-109 victory in the season finale,  the news was made official – Mitchell had been relieved of his duties, and an earnest, aggressive search for his replacement had begun.

Almost exactly one week later, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical has reported on who the Wolves’ next coach could be:

Woj followed up with some clarification on how the powers would be theoretically split:

Local Associated Press ace reporter Jon Krawczynski echoed those sentiments:

Though Krawczynski tempered the excitement a bit by speculating that the process could take a bit to finalize, even if negotiations do appear to be in advanced stages…

… Though ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on both contract length and compensation:

Thibodeau was a long-time assistant in Minnesota, San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York, Houston and Boston before going 278-167 (including playoffs) as Chicago’s head coach from 2010-11 through 2014-15. Lauded for his defensive experise, the Bulls finished no worse than 11th in defensive rating in each of Thibodeau’s five seasons at the helm, including two as the top-rated defense in the league. Chicago reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 and the Eastern Semifinals in 2013 and 2015.

Scott Layden, who currently serves as the San Antonio Spurs’ assistant GM, would join the team as General Manager in the reported arrangement. He held the GM and team President roles with the New York Knicks from 1999 to 2003.

More on this story as it develops.

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13 Responsesso far.

  1. Mebert says:

    I am not sure what is worse news. Thibs or Layden. Layden is the real person that destroyed the Knicks. Isaiah Thomas just finished it off.

    • gjk says:

      Layden is more questionable by an enormous margin. Whatever reservations about Thibs aren’t rooted in basic competence.

      • farnorth says:

        My faith in my fellow fans has been restored man I got lambasted on the Strib for even questioning the guy. Why? because he held some mid level he can’t screw anything up from here position in San Antonio. People seem to think working for the Spurs = magic fairy dust of non failure.

        • gjk says:

          Well, and to be fair to him, those decisions happened over a decade ago ago for a franchise that has basically been dysfunctional since then. He’s a huge question mark, but I’m open to the idea that he’s figured out some important things.

          • Ref says:

            Scott Layden’s something of a question mark, but I like the move, at least as it appears to me on the surface. He gets high praise for talent evaluation from his time at Utah and San Antonio, which is what I hope that he brings to the table with the Timberwolves.

            He gets much criticism for his time with New York, and that’s certainly a red flag, particularly since the franchise had been a playoff team before he arrived. However, his tenure with the team was also the beginning of James Dolan’s tenure with the team and in light of how the franchise has done subsequently under Isiah Thomas, Donnie Walsh, Glen Grunwald, Steve Mills, and now Phil Jackson, it’s hard view Layden’s tenure as anything other than par for the course.

        • Mebert says:

          Is Strib the Salt Lake Tribune? because they love him here in Utah. He gets the credit for Stockton and Malone, anything since he left does not matter around here.

  2. Ryan Fortson says:

    Layden did a good job with Utah before he did a bad job with the Knicks. And with the Knicks, you never know how much to blame on the owner. Layden does not have to build the core roster but only fill in the pieces. Hopefully he can do that much.

    • Mebert says:

      They say Layden is responsible for drafting John Stockton, and the next year was Malone, but everyone was surprised that he fell there. Other then that Shandon Anderson 5 year 40 million? Camby and a top 5 pick for Mcdyss and his remaining knees?

      He threw away picks over valued back end rotation guys that he got while at Utah, and overpaid everyone. The Houston contract is one of the worst in history.

      • Ryan Fortson says:

        Yeah, I forgot about the Allan Houston deal. Way overpaid, especially since there was no one seriously competing to sign him. Definitely one of the worst in history. But if he was a complete idiot, then presumably San Antonio would not have brought him on, even as an assistant GM. And I do think he deserves some credit for building a good team in Utah, even if he did sort of luck into Malone.

  3. sportsbygreg says:

    I don’t know much about Layden, other than what I’m reading from you guys. As far as Thibs, I think it was a good hire, even though I wanted Van Gundy. I’m a big proponent of guys being in shape, but more of a proponent of FRESH legs. I’m just worried his philosophy of overworking his players in practice and games could turn out to be a detriment toward the latter part of the season. If he realizes it’s okay to have a deep team and keep the minutes where they should be, then I think he’ll be super, especially because of his principles and defensive strategy.

  4. vicardwm says:

    Layden is not a great hire, but if Thibodeau is in charge of the actual basketball trade/draft decisions, it will (hopefully) be OK.

  5. Ref says:

    Over the moon about the hiring of Tom Thibodeau, as there wasn’t a better candidate available. Dave Joerger is the only other person that I would consider on the same level, but Glen Taylor would have had to give up assets to get him away from Memphis, and that’s just not worth it, at least not when Tom Thibodeau is around. That said, Tom Thibodeau not perfect, but the concerns about how hard he works players are frankly overblown.

    Look at all the praise that Kevin Garnett has gotten for tutoring Karl-Anthony Towns, and making sure that he practices hard, being the first one in and the last one out, etc. However, Tom Thibodeau gets pilloried for requiring players to do exactly what we praise Kevin Garnett for doing with Karl-Anthony Towns.

    There is an assumption, taken as fact by far too many, that extra practice minutes necessarily mean more injuries, but one does not have to follow the other. Were the Timberwolves’ injury woes last year caused by too much practice? What about the Pelicans this year? I’ve heard plenty of criticism of Alvin Gentry, but that he runs his players too hard in practice isn’t among them.

    Take the analysis by the incomparable InStreetClothes ( For all the friction between Tom Thibodeau and the training staff and front office, in only one of his five seasons were they higher than the league average in games missed due to injury. For all the talk about Tom Thibodeau being a “player killer”, the Bulls were one of the healthier teams in the league during his time with them.

    The Derrick Rose injury in the 2011-2012 playoffs have clouded the whole perception of him, and that’s frankly unfair. Derrick Rose didn’t play more minutes per game under Tom Thibodeau than he did under Vinny Del Negro. The summer before his rookie year, he pulled out of summer ball because of tendonitis in his right knee and he started off his sophomore season by missing the preseason with an ankle injury. This was all before Tom Thibodeau arrived on the scene.

    When Derrick Rose got hurt, just months after being signed to a max-level contract, someone had to take the blame, and the entire front office collectively threw Tom Thibodeau under the bus. The front office didn’t want to take the blame for gambling and losing by signing a young player with a history of injuries to a max contract, so the narrative became that Tom Thibodeau somehow worked him too hard and that’s why he got injured.

    This is the best coaching move and front office move that the Timberwolves could have possibly made.

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