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Timberwolves fire Tom Thibodeau and Saunders to be interim coach

Hoping to get the Timberwolves “back on track” yet this season, owner Glen Taylor on Sunday fired head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau, he confirmed told the Pioneer Press on Sunday.

Ryan Saunders will serve as the interim coach.

“I just don’t think we are where we had hoped to be and where we thought we could be,” Taylor said by phone. “We just made the decision to make a change and see if we can get back on track and into the playoffs here. That’s our goal.”

Thibodeau was informed of the decision shortly after Minnesota’s blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Target Center.

The timing of the move is surprising, given the Wolves are in the middle of a playoff race and fresh off a pair of home wins. But the Wolves are at about the midway point of the season, which Taylor felt was an appropriate amount of time to properly evaluate the coach.

As for the recent pair of wins, Taylor noted the Wolves were expected to win those games, and that the decision wasn’t based on just one performance.

“If we would’ve just lost tonight, I didn’t want the decision to be made on just one game,” Taylor said. “I wanted it to be made on what I said, we gave it about a half a year’s worth of games, and it wasn’t one particular loss that did it. It’s the overall lack of winning on the road and then losing to, lately, some teams at home that we should’ve won.”

Taylor wasn’t the one to deliver the news to Thibodeau and hadn’t yet spoken to the coach as of Sunday night. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported it was Wolves chief executive officer Ethan Casson and general manager Scott Layden who delivered the news.

Thibodeau did bring Minnesota to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years — albeit a brief appearance that lasted just five games — but he went just 97-107 in his two-plus seasons with the Wolves, a team considered to be on the rise given a roster flush with young talent that he inherited.

 

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