N.C. State power forward Abdul Malik-Abu has a predraft workout scheduled for May 7th with the Timberwolves, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The 20-year-old is a potential second-round pick this June, with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranking him as the No. 26 sophomore overall. Malik-Abu appeared in 33 games for the Wolfpack and averaged 12.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 28.3 minutes per outing. His shooting line on the campaign was .490/.000/.630.
- The idea that the Timberwolves considered Dave Joerger for the coaching job that’s since gone to Tom Thibodeau simply wasn’t true, according to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Any would-be path to Minnesota for Joerger vanished when former coach/executive Flip Saunders died, Tillery writes. The Commercial Appeal scribe expects Joerger to seek an extension with the Grizzlies as he heads into next season, the last one that’s guaranteed on his existing deal.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, coach/executive Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden have all made it clear that the team will make its basketball decisions mostly by consensus rather than concentrating power in Thibodeau, despite his title as president of basketball operations, observes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “For me personally, this is about alignment,” Thibodeau said. “It’s not about power, it’s not about any of that stuff. I’ve known Scott a long time. We’ve shared our philosophies with each other. We feel strongly about certain things. He was the person I really wanted.”
- Layden chose to accept his post with the Wolves because of Taylor’s high level of commitment and the presence of Thibodeau, Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. The executive isn’t concerned with what his title is or his level of power, but is instead focused on results, Youngblood notes. “I think if you’re looking for credit, you’re in the wrong place,” Layden said. The GM also echoed Thibs’ sentiments that decision-making would be a group process, telling reporters, “In the end, [Taylor] will probably make the decision, because it’s his money. And we’re going to try to convince him, together, why we need to spend it. … I feel good about this. We’re aligned in how we think. And that’s important.”
- A close friendship with new GM Scott Layden, the potential of Minnesota’s roster and a belief that Glen Taylor is committed to winning are reasons Tom Thibodeau cited to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune as he spoke about his decision to become coach and president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves. Thibodeau said that having the dual coach/executive title the Wolves gave him wasn’t a make-or-break element to the deal. “It wasn’t an absolute must, but I’m glad it has worked out that way,” Thibodeau said. “I just wanted to make sure I had a voice. The person I’m with, I trust Scott. He has great integrity. He’s a great worker and he has great experience.”
Glen Taylor has brought two minority-share investors into the Timberwolves ownership group, according to Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link), but the 75-year-old Taylor said today that he’s committed to remaining in charge of the team for at least the next five years, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. That aligns with the length of the contracts for new coach/executive Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden. Taylor has been in talks to sell 30% of the team to Grizzlies minority-share owner Steve Kaplan, and they were reportedly discussing a plan to have Kaplan eventually succeed Taylor as primary owner. Presumably, no such plan exists for new Wolves part-owners Meyer Orbach, a New York real estate mogul, and John Jiang, who, according to Walters, is believed to be the first NBA investor from China.
- New Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau would have accepted a coaching job without player personnel control on the Knicks, as Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com hears. However, the Knicks got the impression the opposite was true, and team president Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills didn’t feel they’d get along with Thibs, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post. Owner James Dolan was nonetheless intrigued with the former Coach of the Year, league sources told Begley. Jackson is still leaning toward removing the interim tag from the head coaching title of Kurt Rambis, Berman writes in the same piece.
- Wolves owner Glen Taylor moved quickly to get the leaders he wanted, notes Jerry Zgoda of The Star-Tribune. A week after announcing the jobs were open, Minnesota brought in Tom Thibodeau as coach and president of basketball operations and Scott Layden as GM. “I liked his answer to one of the first questions I asked: What are the things most important to you?” Taylor said of Thibodeau. “The first thing he said was, ‘I want to be the coach of an NBA championship team. That’s my goal in life.’” Taylor said Thibodeau will make the final decisions on some matters and Layden will do so on others, adding that the protocol is spelled out clearly.
Kevin Garnett, who still has one year and $8MM remaining on his deal with the Wolves, is waiting to see how the hiring of Tom Thibodeau as coach and president of basketball operations will affect his future with the franchise, Marc Stein of ESPN.com relays. “I pride myself on being loyal,” Garnett told Stein. “I think I’ve proven that by coming back home to finish my career. I need to see how the next few weeks turn out to truly understand if everyone has that same loyalty. Then I will know what my future holds.” Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported earlier this week that Garnett intends to hold off on retiring and play in 2016/17.
Talks between team owner Glen Taylor and Grizzlies part-owner Steve Kaplan about a would-be deal for 30% of the Minnesota franchise are ongoing, Stein notes. If a deal between Kaplan and Taylor is struck, it would be with the understanding that Kaplan would eventually succeed Taylor as the Wolves’ controlling owner, with the timing of that change up to Taylor, Stein adds. Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press had reported in early March that talks between the pair had “hit a wall.”
The Wolves and Tom Thibodeau reached an agreement Wednesday on a five-year deal that made Thibodeau the new head coach and president of basketball operations for Minnesota. “We are extremely excited to welcome Tom Thibodeau back to the Timberwolves,” team owner Glen Taylor said in the team’s official release. “Through this process we quickly identified Tom as the best leader to shape our talented team and help them realize their full potential. Tom’s resume speaks for itself. He is a proven winner, leader, and one of the most well-respected NBA head coaches over the last decade. His teams have annually been among the league leaders in defense and we are excited about the approach and mentality he will bring to that side of the ball. The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves has never been brighter and we are very pleased to have Tom as our basketball operations leader moving forward.”
Thibodeau had plenty of on-court success in his five seasons with the Bulls, who had given the longtime assistant his first NBA head coaching job. He went 255-139 in the regular season, winning the 2010 Coach of the Year award, though he was just 23-28 in the playoffs. Chicago parted ways with Thibodeau last May. The main criticisms regarding Thibodeau from his time in Chicago were regarding his lackluster offensive system and play calling, as well as his propensity to wear his veteran players down through brutal practices and excessive regular season minutes.
The Wolves as an organization have a wealth of young talent and are certainly one of the up and coming franchises in the league as a result. The addition of Thibodeau is a solid fit given the defensive talent already on Minnesota’s roster, but there are likely to be some concerns raised about whether he has the right temperament to properly nurture and develop his younger players.
This brings me to today’s topic: Is Tom Thibodeau the right fit for the Wolves?
Take to the comments section to share your thoughts on the hire, express any reservations regarding Thibs joining the Wolves, or simply to offer a prediction on how well the team will fare in 2016/17 under Thibodeau. We look forward to what you have to say.
The Timberwolves landed the most sought-after coach on the market Wednesday, hiring Tom Thibodeau and giving him player personnel control to boot. The move wasn’t a shock, since Minnesota quickly zeroed in on Thibs and appeared to pursue him with an unmatched fervor. Here’s a sampling of the reaction to Minnesota’s coup:
- The Thibodeau hire demonstrates that the Wolves are more stable and promising than they ever have been, contends Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune. That Thibodeau would choose Minnesota speaks to just how intriguing the roster is, and it also shows the franchise has its priorities in order, Souhan believes. Thibodeau, in a statement Wednesday, said the Wolves have the best young roster in the NBA, as USA Today’s Sam Amick relays (Twitter link).
- Thibodeau had long eyed the Lakers, convinced that he could attract elite free agents to play for him in L.A., writes Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who takes the Lakers to task for not deciding Byron Scott‘s fate sooner and missing the chance to offer the job to Thibodeau. The ex-Bulls coach found it too risky to wait around for teams that haven’t decided whether to create coaching opportunities, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
- Still, many owners and executives around the league question whether Thibodeau can handle serving as coach and president of basketball operations at the same time, Wojnarowski writes in the same piece.
- The Timberwolves took an approach opposite to that of the Lakers, quickly cutting ties with Sam Mitchell and reversing course on apparent plans to let former GM Milt Newton run the front office this summer, observes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. The team’s statement that the search would focus exclusively on candidates outside the organization was a stunner, given Taylor’s reputation for loyalty, Ding notes.