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Thibs firing fallout, including when he should have been fired, Saunders as coach, what the Wolves should do now, and more in this Timberwolves edition. As usual, Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland interviews Wolves analyst Beartrap McManus.
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If you were in charge, when would have you fired Thibs?
Before the season started, most likely. The Butler fiasco was cause enough for me. He never seemed to have the patience for player development. As de facto GM he burned through cap space to bring in and rely on veterans that clearly weren’t enough to allow the team to meaningfully compete.
Is there anything Thibs could have done to make you want to keep him?
At this point, no. He had his chance to prove he could adapt and more or less refused to do so. By just about every account, he created an incredibly toxic environment at Target Center and Mayo Clinic Square.
It was really enlightening to hear Wolves broadcaster Jim Petersen talk about his experiences with Thibs on ESPN 1500’s Raised By Wolves podcast. He went so far as to describe it “a traumatic tenure” and “oppressive.” It’s similar to the behavior that contributed to the end of his tenure in Chicago. The podcast is a great listen (as most things involving Jim Pete are) and a testament to his professionalism that he never let any of that out during his broadcasts.
I'm sure that eventually we’ll find out a lot more about the specifics of Thibs’ behavior during his time as Wolves head coach and that it won’t make him look good.
Wound have you chosen Ryan Saunders to replace him? If not, who?
I probably wouldn't have chosen Saunders. On one hand, I’m glad he’s not a retread or necessarily a safe pick, but it’s still indicative of Glen Taylor’s notorious country club mentality. I’m fine with him, though. He’s forward-thinking and the players seem to like him.
Who do you think will be the next Wolves coach?
Sam Cassell’s name has been tossed around on Twitter and I wouldn’t mind that.
If you had been asked to take over as coach, what changes would you make to how the team plays vs. Thibs’ philosophy?
I’d modernize the defense by implementing more switching to account for the importance of three-point shooting. The offensive schemes under Thibs' were terribly unimaginative. Late game strategy has been to let Teague, Rose or Butler dribble for 15-20 seconds before going one-on-two for a bad shot. I’d like to see better utilization of both Towns and Wiggins as facilitators and playmakers and more set plays and less isolation at the end of games.
If you had been asked to take over as GM, what would you do?
I’d love to see them find a way to shed Teague and Dieng’s contracts without taking on any large, long-term deals in return. Retaining Tyus Jones would be a priority. They could benefit from a defensive-minded backup center as well. I'm not sure how easy to accomplish, realistic, or likely any of that is, though.
What differences do you think we’ll see with Saunders as coach?
In one game he already shown more flexibility and creativity with his rotations, especially at the end of said game. Thibs’ substitutions always seemed to be based more on the clock than the situation and Saunders seems much more willing to adapt on the fly.
I also expect we’ll see a coach that makes a much greater effort to connect and get through to his players. I’m sure Target Center will be a much more enjoyable atmosphere for fans and players alike without Thibs’ grindcore vocal stylings emanating from the sideline.
What do you think of Wiggins re-emergence? Will Rose coming back hamper that in any way?
I’m hesitant to call it a full on re-emergence just yet, but he’s been playing great lately. The game against OKC might have been his best yet.
I’m not sure Rose’s return will hamper Wiggins individual play at all, but he will likely take away opportunities and shots that Wiggins is more deserving of, based on the recent play of both.
Beartrap McManus is an NBA and Timberwolves expert. He has been a life coach for Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland since before time, a consultant for Rambling On since its founding, and Timberwolves analyst beginning in Series Five. He resides with his wife and twelve kids in Hurley, Wisconsin, where his wife owns a popular supper club.