Member Update - Welcome Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden
On Tuesday afternoon at the Target Center, the Minnesota Timberwolves held a press conference to introduce President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden. Owner Glen Taylor was also in attendance.
Here are some of the highlights from the press conference.
For a guy who is always very serious on the bench, Thibodeau was very relaxed and even smiled a few times during the presser.
He started off taking us on a trip down memory lane, back when he was an assistant coach in Minnesota under Bill Musselman from 1989-91.
He said the fan support, despite not a lot of team success early, was great in the early years of the franchise.
“When I think about Minnesota Timberwolves basketball, I go back to the beginning and those first couple of years were incredible,” Thibodeau said. “We were an expansion team, the first year, we played in the Metrodome. The team played extremely hard, they played extremely smart and extremely together. I thought by being here, that resonated with the Minnesota fans. So the last three games of that season in the Metrodome, we had 45,000, 47,000, 49,000.”
Thibodeau is trying to build the same excitement again. This time he won’t rocking the mullet-styled haircut (RIP), but he will be bringing 20+ more years of coaching.
With talented players like Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio, it’s easy to look ahead and say ‘playoffs’ next year. That’s probably the goal with this team, but Thibodeau wants to players and the organization to do things the right way.
“The big thing with me is I don’t want our players looking backwards and I don’t want them looking ahead,” Thibodeau said. “I want them concentrating on what they have to do each and every day. If we are doing the right things every day, the results will take care of themselves. I don’t want to put a lid on what we can do, or what we can’t do.”
Even with the talent, the team has a long ways to go and Thibodeau recognizes that. Even with uber athletes like Towns, Wiggins and LaVine, along with defensive-minded Rubio, the Wolves allowed 106 points per game, seventh-worst in the league.
You better believe Thibodeau, one of the best defensive coaches in the history of the league, will be looking to change that sooner rather than later.
“We are close offensively right now, I think we have to get our turnovers down to creep into the top 10 and move forward from there,” Thibodeau said. “Defensively we have a lot of room for improvement, that is an area we do have to correct.”
The next step for Thibodeau will be to prepare for the NBA Draft and free agency.
But first, he’s trying to reach out to his players. Something that’s easier said than done now that the offseason has started.
“I am trying to track them all down now, so I have to get the real phone numbers,” Thibodeau joked. “Right now I am probably on the fourth number but I will get there. Trust me I will get there”
Scott Layden comes in to join the Wolves as general manager after being an assistant general manager in San Antonio for the last four years.
What makes Layden especially rare and valuable is that he spent time during his career as an assistant coach while also spending time in the front office – something Thibodeau will be doing for the first time in his career.
Layden thinks he can help out with that transition.
“I think the collaboration and relationship with be worked on every day,” Layden said. “There will be constant communication and we are looking forward to that. This is an exciting time, I think the fact that we have this world class facility to train in with the relationship with the medical side and how close that is, it puts us in a unique place in the NBA.”
Who between the two will have the final say on a decision? The answer is ultimately Glen Taylor, since it’s his money, but Layden said that he doesn’t see that situation surfacing given the past relationship that Thibodeau and Layden have.
“We have this saying where you go in a room, you debate, you disagree, but the most important thing is coming out of the room committed, and we will be committed. I certainly have known Coach [Thibodeau] a long time, it is about the relationship, it is about doing this together,” Layden said. “…That is not to say that every day is easy or that we agree on everything, that is not how it is, but we are going to commit to what is best for the franchise.”
Layden is committed to finishing out the playoffs with the Spurs, which could end up in a championship ring. After that, he’ll arrive in Minnesota, working to deliver the Wolves a ring in his time here.
In For The Long Haul
Taylor discussed something interesting to open up the press conference. He talked about windows.
He said that in his time with the Wolves, they’ve had two windows to potentially be great. He thinks this is the third and that’s why he went out and got the best coach on the market.
“You only get this unique opportunity to go for the top every once in a while in your lifetime. With the Timberwolves, we had that when we got Kevin [Garnett], we got Stephon [Marbury] and we got Tom Gugliotta – three young guys that I thought we were going to build a team for the future,” Taylor said. “It didn’t work out that particular time. The second time was when we brought in [Latrell] Sprewell and Sam Cassell to play with Kevin [Garnett] and the other guys – we had everything going. Again, it was injuries.”
With Taylor making these moves, he wanted fans to know how invested he still is with this team, even at the age of 75.
“Some want to know what my commitment is. So I think I‘ve answered that commitment,” Taylor said. “I’m with these guys for the long run. This is not going to be a one-year, two-year, three-year, four-year, five-year deal. In my mind, this is going to be longer than that and I’m committed to this team over that period of time.”