The Minnesota Timberwolves have fired head coach and team president Tom Thibodeau, according to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Minnesota has fired President and Coach Tom Thibodeau, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 7, 2019
This news comes just a couple of hours after the Timberwolves defeated the Los Angeles Lakers at home, 108-86. The victory moved Minnesota to 19-21 on the season, but that wasn't enough to help the front office give Thibodeau one more chance to turn the team around.
Minnesota sits two games behind the Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They ended a 14-year playoff drought last season after going 47-35 - clinching the eighth seed before losing to the Houston Rockets in the opening round.
2018-19 has marked a drama-filled season for the Timberwolves, who have been a major disappointment this season. All-Star guard Jimmy Butler requested a trade weeks before the season started, and it took them almost two months to find a deal - before eventually sending him to the Philadelphia 76ers.
There have also been talks that young star Andrew Wiggins is unhappy with his role with the team, as the former No. 1 pick endures a frustrating season. With Thibodeau unable to fix the struggles in the locker room and on the field, the team finally decided it was time for a change.
Wojnarowski added that Fred Hoiberg - who was fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears early in December - could take over as head coach or GM.
Fred Hoiberg is a serious consideration of Minnesota owner Glen Taylor to become either the GM or head coach in the future, league sources tell ESPN. Hoiberg was an assistant GM in Minnesota prior to Iowa State. Scott Layden remains GM now.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 7, 2019
Thibodeau's tenure in Minnesota ends with a 97-107 record over two and a half seasons. After the T-Wolves made the playoffs in 2018, expectations grew hire for the team to go on a deeper run in April and May. But Minnesota is banking on a head coaching change getting the most out of an underachieving group.
What This Means
Despite the firing, Thibodeau remains one of the best defensive-minded head coaches to come around in the past decade, and Minnesota's struggles aren't entirely on him. Given his experience and past success, it's not crazy to think he'll land a starting job again soon.
As for the Timberwolves, expect more major changes if the new head coach can't find a way to get this team into the postseason.