Assistant coach Ryan Saunders will take over as interim coach for the rest of the season, while Scott Layden will remain Minnesota’s general manager.
The move comes just hours after the Wolves’ emphatic 108-86 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers improved their record to 19-21, including 14-6 at home. They are 11th in the Western Conference standings.
Layden and Minnesota CEO Ethan Casson walked into Thibodeau’s office and fired him after the victory over the Lakers, league sources told ESPN. Thibodeau was surprised at the timing and had no idea his ouster was imminent, according to sources.
Former Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is in serious consideration by Minnesota owner Glen Taylor to become either the general manager or head coach in the future, league sources told ESPN.
Thibodeau ends his tenure as Timberwolves coach with a 97-107 record. His win total is tied with Rick Adelman for the second-most in team history.
“We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him all the best,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement. “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”
The start of Thibodeau’s third season in charge was complicated by the departure of Jimmy Butler, who forced a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers in November. As the trade went through, sources told ESPN that Thibodeau had decided his team could no longer function with the four-time All-Star.
Minnesota has gone 15-12 since the trade, after opening the season 4-9 with Butler.
Of late, the Timberwolves have been playing short-handed, with two of their top four scorers, Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) and Derrick Rose (sprained right ankle), still out with injuries.
Hoiberg, who was fired as Bulls coach in December, previously worked as an assistant GM for Minnesota before becoming head coach at Iowa State in 2010.
At the time, Minnesota’s then-president of basketball operations, David Kahn, said Hoiberg was “on track to become president of an NBA team because of his broad range of skills and ability to connect with people.”
Hoiberg also spent the final two seasons of his playing career with Minnesota from 2003 to 2005.
The 46-year-old Hoiberg, who a source said is also a candidate to fill the coaching vacancy at UCLA, succeeded Thibodeau as Bulls coach in 2015.
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