MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tom Thibodeau was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, following a 108-86 victory over the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers. Thibodeau was halfway into his third season with Minnesota, which began in turmoil surrounding the eventual trade of All-Star Jimmy Butler.
Assistant coach Ryan Saunders, who is 32, was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Saunders is the son of the late Flip Saunders, who’s by far the winningest coach in club history.
Scott Layden will stay as the general manager, assuming oversight of the roster. Thibodeau was also the president of basketball operations, with full authority over personnel decisions.
Thibodeau finished 97-107 with the Wolves, who barely reached the postseason last spring and were beaten by Houston in five games in the first round.
“We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him all the best,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement released by the team. “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”
ESPN reported Fred Hoiberg -- fired earlier as head coach of the Chicago Bulls -- is a "serious consideration" to become either the GM or head coach of the Timberwolves. ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups also has been prominent in internal discussions of GM and head coaching candidates, according to the report.
The Wolves started 4-9 before sending Butler to Philadelphia in a package that brought Robert Covington and Dario Saric. The Wolves are only 15-12 since the Butler deal, though, in a Western Conference that is as stacked as ever.