[As most Timberwolves fans know, the team’s President of Basketball Operations is Tom Thibodeau. Their Head Coach is also Tom Thibodeau. These distinct characters that occupy the same body take on very different personalities and don’t always see eye to eye on decisions concerning the team that they work for and manage. What follows is an imaginary meeting that recently took place between them, discussing the state of the team and the best way forward. Enjoy.]
President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau: Hey coach, how’re ya doin?
Head Coach Tom Thibodeau: Uh, not good. Not good. These guys just don’t get it. They don’t play defense and until they play defense the winning is not going to happen. They don’t understand the things that go into winning, and our best players need to be leaders.
POBO Thibs: [deep laughter]
Coach Thibs: It’s not funny, it’s not [expletive] funny. I keep telling Karl: DO YOUR JOB! Until you provide consistent weakside help on defense — CONSISTENT — we’re not going to get stops and we’re not going to win. We’re 27th in the league at defending shots around the hoop. Did you know that?
POBO Thibs: [still smiling] Yes, coach. But–
Coach Thibs: –I just put those guys through a shell drill that lasted two hours. I told em we wouldn’t stop until they got it right. And you know something? I don’t think they ever did get it right. I must be getting soft, because I let em go after just two hours. That is a great drill though, I really love running that drill.
I keep telling them that the only way that they will learn it is repetition, and until they show me that they’ve learned it, there is going to be more repetition and more repetition and more repetition.
POBO Thibs: [smile turns to a cringe] Two hours? Karl and Wig have practically been playing 40 minutes a night.
Coach Thibs: [looking down with arms crossed, shaking his head] I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. It’s the only way they’re going to learn it. I don’t care. It’s my job to teach them, so we’ll keep going through it until it’s right. And we WILL get it right. No matter how long it takes.
POBO Thibs: Okay, well, as you know we planned this meeting to discuss our vision and strategy at the All-Star Break, with the trade deadline approaching. Why don’t you sit down?
Coach Thibs: I’d prefer to stand.
POBO Thibs: Right. Okay. Well, the way that I see it, we have three big issues to discuss and they are related. The first is the trade deadline. The second is the 8th seed in the Western Conference, which is — shockingly — still within reach. We’re 3.5 games behind Denver, with 25 games to go. The third is the draft, and how we want to approach the final stretch of the season in terms of draft position.
Coach Thibs: [incredulously stares at POBO Thibs] What do you mean, “how we want to approach?”
POBO Thibs: [smiling] Coach, c’mon. You know what I’m talking about. If the draft lottery was today we’d have the 6th best odds, and we’d be virtually guaranteed a top 7 pick in what figures to be a great draft.
Coach Thibs: [angrily staring at POBO Thibs]
POBO Thibs: However, if we start winning too many games our position could slip dramatically.
Coach Thibs: So let me get this straight. You seem to be suggesting that we’d somehow be better off MISSING the playoffs than making them? I don’t think I understand what you’re trying to say because if that’s what you’re trying to say then we can end this [expletive] meeting right [expletive] now.
POBO Thibs: [more deep laughter] Coach, we’ve been over this. This isn’t about THIS season. We didn’t fool ourselves when we took this job. We knew it was in the early stages, but the young talent and the flexibility going forward — we’re going to have tons of cap space this summer, especially once Pekovic is of the books. This is about the future, the long-term future. We want to build a dynasty.
And besides, the playoffs are not looking very realistic after this Cousins trade.
Coach Thibs: Yeah, where the [expletive] were we on that? Last summer, I asked for Jo[akim Noah] and Lu[ol Deng] and you got me neither one of them. Now DeMarcus [expletive] Cousins gets traded for Buddy mother[expletive] Hield and we’re sitting here on our hands?!
DO YOUR JOB!
POBO Thibs: Okay, coach. To be fair, the Noah and Deng contracts are looking like two of the worst in the league, right about now. I think you should be thanking me for passing on them.
Coach Thibs: I’m not thanking you for [expletive]. They understand what goes into winning.
POBO Thibs: As for Buddy Hield… Vivek was just a much bigger fan than we anticipated.
In any event, the trade deadline is this coming Thursday. We’re not trading Karl. We’re not trading Wig. With Zach recovering from surgery, we’re not going to be moving him. We’re not trading Kris–
Coach Thibs: –Why not Kris?
POBO Thibs: [sheepish look comes across face] Because we love Kris! He’s an elite defender with big upside.
Coach Thibs: He can’t shoot. He can’t set up his teammates. He’s a point guard? I don’t think he’s a point guard. I think I like Tyus better.
POBO Thibs: Okay, we’ll take phone calls on Kris. [jots down “NOT trading Dunn” on notepad]
Coach Thibs: What’s all this [expletive] that Adrian Woj-whatever-the-[expletive] keeps writing about you shopping Ricky? Ricky’s my starting point guard, why would we ever shop Ricky?
POBO Thibs: Well, I’m not saying all of those reports were spot on, but, I mean, now that we have Kris–
Coach Thibs: –I wasn’t asking you about Kris. We already talked about Kris. What’s with you and Kris?
POBO Thibs: Okay, so no moving Ricky. Got it. [jots down “open to moving Ricky for right price” on notepad]
Coach Thibs: And this draft you’re so [expletive] excited about. Is it really that great?
POBO Thibs: [eyes light back up] YES. Let’s talk about the draft. It’s loaded. Might be the best draft class in a decade. At the top there are guards with superstar potential and in the middle of the lottery there are forwards who could fit right between Karl and Wig and really help this team out in the long term.
But again, we’re 6th in lottery positioning right now, but only 3 games behind the THIRTEENTH team in the lottery standings. So winning too much could really lower the value of our next draft pick. And I know you mentioned that Ricky is your starting point guard, but I had something to run by you. If we WERE potentially open to moving Ricky this week, not only would that free up more minutes for Kris–
Coach Thibs: –or Tyus.
POBO Thibs: Uh, sure. Right, or Tyus. But that would probably help preserve or even increase our draft position. It would be a short-term cost with a potential long-term payoff.
Coach Thibs: By losing more games, you mean.
POBO Thibs: Well, I mean, if you want to put it that way.
Coach Thibs: What other way is there to put it? Look, I think we’re done here. Don’t [expletive] trade Ricky this week. If you get any good offers on Kris or Bazz, let me know. We’re just going to keep focused on getting better everyday, and the wins will come when they come.
POBO Thibs: [crossing fingers under desk] That sounds great, Coach. Definitely not moving Ricky this week, and I’ll let you know what we hear about Kris or Bazz. Glad we’re on the same page, and I’m glad that we had this meeting.
Coach Thibs: Do your job.
POBO Thibs: Right. Got it.