MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Cities mentioned Monday that “nobody noticed it coming” when requested concerning the firing of coach and crew president Tom Thibodeau the day earlier than.
Actually, Cities mentioned he advised assistant coaches simply final week that he felt the group was gaining some much-needed “stability” and that he was lastly feeling comfy inside his crew’s schemes.
“I jinxed that badly,” Cities mentioned Monday, after the Timberwolves (19-21) gathered for his or her first follow with out Thibodeau’s acquainted, gravelly voice main the drills.
Derrick Rose, after twice utilizing the phrase “kill your self” when describing how he might carry out with out coach Tom Thibodeau, apologized for utilizing the time period, saying he meant it as a colloquialism.
Fred Hoiberg, previously the coach of the Chicago Bulls and Iowa State Cyclones, advised ESPN on Monday that he desires to coach in both the NBA or school stage relatively than return to an NBA front-office function.
How ought to Minnesota construct round Karl-Anthony Cities now?
Cities is simply 23, however he has seen a lot throughout his 4 seasons with the Timberwolves. Flip Saunders, the person who drafted him, died after battling most cancers. Cities’ first coach, Sam Mitchell, was fired after only one season. His highest-profile teammate, Jimmy Butler, compelled a commerce after a messy training-camp holdout.
And now Cities’ second coach was fired shortly after a blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
CEO Ethan Casson and normal supervisor Scott Layden fired Thibodeau within the coach’s workplace instantly after the 108-86 residence win. Thibodeau, and his former players, had been all caught off guard. Cities and Andrew Wiggins had been notified of Thibodeau’s firing by cellphone. Cities mentioned he was not given a transparent rationalization as to why.
“We had simply celebrated an excellent win, so all of us went residence pondering the day was over,” Cities mentioned. “It was simply starting.”
The Wolves appointed assistant coach Ryan Saunders, Flip Saunders’ son, interim head coach.
“I am simply taking all the pieces day by day,” mentioned Saunders, now the youngest coach within the NBA at age 32. “In case you have a look at one thing as a trial, I believe that is while you begin placing strain on your self or different folks that simply is not there.”
Derrick Rose, who may be very shut with Thibodeau, mentioned he has not but reached out to his former Bulls and Timberwolves coach. When he does, Rose mentioned, they may converse by cellphone. Speaking through textual content message feels too impersonal.
“I am harm as a result of Thibs will not be right here,” Rose mentioned. “However, on the similar time, I am very cool with Ryan. And I’ve talked to him earlier than and after follow. And I advised him to run with this chance. However with Thibs, like, he took an opportunity on me when a pair of organizations had s—-ed on me.”
Whereas Wolves proprietor Glen Taylor has mentioned that Saunders can be thought-about for the full-time job, different names have already begun to emerge as candidates.
Minnesota might look to Sixers assistant Monty Williams, a players’ coach who might join with franchise participant Cities like he did with Pelicans star Anthony Davis when he coached in New Orleans. Former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, who’s shut with Taylor since taking part in for the Timberwolves, is one other attainable candidate for both normal supervisor or head coach, though he has mentioned he would favor a training function. Former Timberwolves participant and present ESPN commentator Chauncey Billups additionally has drawn curiosity.
Minnesota will transfer away from the mixed entrance workplace and training function that Thibodeau had, sources advised ESPN. On Sunday, Layden declined to elaborate.
“I do not need to touch upon that twin function,” Layden mentioned. “We now have simply the utmost respect and appreciation for [Thibodeau’s] work.”
Thibodeau’s firing is simply the newest setback in what has been a turbulent yr for the Timberwolves. They snapped a playoff drought final season and entered the 2018-19 season hoping to take the subsequent step with a gifted core that included Butler, Cities and Wiggins. As a substitute, pleasure rapidly turned to drama as Butler compelled his method out of city.
Wiggins mentioned Monday that this season has “for certain” had probably the most adversity in his profession.
“There’s been lots of stuff occurring this season and we’re not even midway via but,” he mentioned. “Hopefully we get extra stability now and it slows down.”
However the season does not cease. After follow Monday, the Wolves left immediately for the Minneapolis airport for a visit to Oklahoma Metropolis and the primary recreation of the post-Thibodeau period.