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Karl-Anthony Towns and other members of the Minnesota Timberwolves were stunned by the firing of team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau on Sunday, as relayed in a report from Malika Andrews of ESPN.
“We had just celebrated a good win, so we all went home thinking the day was over,” Towns told reporters, as Thibodeau’s release came after a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. “It was just beginning.”
The Timberwolves will now be led by interim coach Ryan Saunders, the son of late former coach Flip Saunders. Ryan Saunders is just 32-years old.
“I’m just taking everything day by day,” Saunders said. “If you look at something as a trial, I think that’s when you start putting pressure on yourself or other people that just isn’t there.”
One player who seems to be particularly impacted by the coaching change — former NBA MVP Derrick Rose, who had been experiencing a resurgence under Thibodeau after a few down seasons.
“I’m hurt because Thibs is not here,” Rose said. “But, at the same time, I’m very cool with Ryan. And I’ve talked to him before and after practice. And I told him to run with this opportunity. But with Thibs, like, he took a chance on me when a couple of organizations had s—-ed on me.”
Saunders is expected to have the rest of the season his case as full-time coach. But according to Andrews, the Timberwolves have their eyes on a few others.
The list includes former New Orleans Pelicans coach and current Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams, former Chicago Bulls coach and Timberwolves guard Fred Hoiberg, and former Timberwolves guard and current ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups.
“Minnesota will move away from the combined front office and coaching role that Thibodeau had,” Andrews reported, citing sources.
Scott Layden remains the team’s general manager — for now.