The Coach and President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tom Thibodeau was released of his duties on Sunday 6th January 2019.
Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves will be playing for interim coach Ryan Saunders presumably for the rest of the season.
Saunders is the son of former Timberwolves head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders; Flip died in October 2015 after a multi-year battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"We've got so much talent on this team", Saunders said.
"We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him all the best", Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement. "I guess Taylor did not like the direction things were heading and decided to make a change now". "I think now, (we're) halfway through the season and I don't think we're where we thought we would be or where we think we should be". However, Thibodeau was a driving force in bringing the Timberwolves back the playoffs after a 13-year dry spell. Thibodeau, 60, led the Timberwolves to the playoffs past year for the first time since 2004, but are just 19-21 on the season, including 5-15 on the road.
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"I think we have a pretty good team, barring injuries and stuff like that", Taylor said.
Thibodeau was also the head coach of the Bulls from 2011-15, where he compiled a 255-139 record.
ESPN later reported the firing of Thibodeau as well as interest in former member of the Wolves Fred Hoiberg for the opening. Hoiberg was sacked by Chicago in early December.
Ultimately Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric, and only after Taylor stepped in.
"You really don't get much sleep, getting thrown into this thing", Saunders said Tuesday morning, January 8, at the Timberwolves' shootaround.