Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Tomahawk Tuesday: Is Tom Thibodeau the right man to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves
On Tuesday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Tom Thibodeau met with Jimmy Butler in Los Angeles to talk about his future with the Minnesota Timberwolves organization. Despite reaching the playoffs in his first year with the team, Butler is reportedly unhappy about the direction of the franchise, specifically as it pertains to the job that Thibodeau is doing as head coach and president of basketball operations.
While he has a track record of success in Boston, Chicago, and now Minnesota, Thibodeau has been known to be a hard guy to play for. He demands a lot from his players and doesn't seem to be too sympathetic to the pounding NBA players go through during a full 82 game season. Rather than resting his players and playing his bench, Thibodeau tends to go with shorter rotations, resulting in his star players having to exert more energy on a nightly basis.
Thibodeau's coaching philosophy may be a contributing factor to all the injuries that Derrick Rose had during his time in Chicago as well as injuries to Joakim Noah, Zach LaVine, and Jimmy Butler. While it's conceivable that Butler has other issues with Thibodeau as well, the way he treats his players appears to be his main gripe. If you are an NBA player, you want to make as much money as you can and play basketball for as long as you can. Playing for a coach that runs his players into the ground is something a player should want to avoid at all costs. Even it means playing for a less competitive team.
In regards to how the Timberwolves should handle this, it's a tricky call. The name of the game as far as they are concerned is to win basketball games and Thibodeau has done a good job of that during his brief time in Minnesota, guiding the Timberwolves to their first playoff appearance since the 2003-04 season. On the flip side, when you have such a talented young core consisting of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, do you really want to risk long-term damage to them?
What could ultimately decide this is how the other players on the team feel about him. If it's only Jimmy Butler that has a beef, maybe the Timberwolves trade him for some assets before he gets the chance to walk away from them next summer in free agency. If on the other hand, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and others also complain to ownership and take things public, it would probably be the wise thing to fire Thibodeau and find a guy who is a little less stringent in his thinking. I guess we'll have to wait and see what final direction this takes, but if I'm making a prediction, I don't see how Thibodeau stays with this team for the long haul. The short-term benefits don't seem to outweigh the potential long-term damage.
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