The Timberwolves have officially launched their search for a new president of basketball operations to replace Tom Thibodeau, who was dismissed during the season, the team announced today in a press release. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic first reported late on Tuesday night that Minnesota would seek a president of basketball ops.
“In the absence of Tom, I want to thank all who picked up his responsibilities this past year,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement, citing the work done by general manager Scott Layden and head coach Ryan Saunders. “… They worked through a season with many injuries requiring many challenges in our player lineup. We are incredibly grateful to them for all of their hard work and commitment to the franchise.
“The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves continues to be very bright,” Taylor continued. “It’s more important than ever that we find a leader who can build a successful team in today’s fast-paced NBA. We have the cornerstones of a very talented team and need to assemble the final pieces that will elevate us into a playoff team and one that can compete for championships.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who initially reported on Tuesday that the Timberwolves were finalizing plans to retain Layden and Saunders, has amended his report, clarifying that Taylor would prefer to keep Layden and Saunders in the mix as part of a “revised organizational structure.”
According to Wojnarowski, the idea would be to reward Saunders with a multiyear extension – likely a three-year deal with a team option in the final season – and to keep Layden as the general manager, with a new president of basketball operations working above him. It remains to be seen if the Wolves will target candidates willing to work within that structure, or if the team will ultimately let its new hire make the call on Layden’s and Saunders’ futures.
Sources tell Krawczynski that Taylor ultimately elected to open up a search for an executive about Layden in part because of the GM’s “messy handling” of Jimmy Butler‘s trade request and his inability to make a trade at February’s deadline. Krawczynski adds that the Wolves will be aggressive in their search, targeting a strong communicator who places high value on the draft and player development. The team won’t use a search firm during the process.
Former NBA players Chauncey Billups and Calvin Booth have been cited as potential targets of interest for Minnesota, though it’s not clear if the club would feel comfortable elevating either one to a president of basketball operations role. Booth currently works in the Nuggets’ front office, while Billups has interviewed for high-level NBA management jobs in Cleveland and Atlanta in recent years.
The Wolves also plan to look outside of Taylor’s “sphere” for candidates, writes Krawczynski.