The Minnesota Timberwolves surprised the NBA world on Sunday night by firing president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau. The firing itself was not surprising, as his handling of the Jimmy Butler all but sealed his fate, but the timing is what caught most off guard.
It came hours after the Timberwolves completed a 108-86 thrashing of the Los Angeles Lakers. The loss was so bad, that it caused Lakers head coach Luke Walton to openly criticize the passion of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
Of course, Ball and Ingram responded with great individual performances the following night a win against the Dallas Mavericks, but whenever a three-game losing streak happens with a playoff-level roster, the coach is often who critics focus on.
While the Lakers were working on moving forward, Walton expressed some shock over the Timberwolves electing to part with Thibodeau, via Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group:
Luke Walton on Tom Thibodeau’s firing: “I was a little surprised. You never want to see that happen to anyone.”
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 8, 2019
Besides the coaches that have already been relieved of their duties this season, Walton’s name has come up by far the most in terms of the next coach likely to be fired.
While Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has intimated Walton is safe, there have been conflicting reports about his long-term vision of the Lakers’ coach. Earlier this season, it was reported that Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have a preference to replace Walton with a head coach of their choosing at some point.
As for Thibodeau, his time with the Timberwolves came to an end after two-plus seasons and a 98-107 record. Minnesota reached the playoffs last season but were eliminated in the first round by the Houston Rockets.
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