It had been rumored that Sam Mitchell was on shaky ground as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach — when the owner gives the GM a public vote of confidence saying he will be on the job at least through the summer, but won’t do that for you, it’s not a good sign.
But Minnesota moved more quickly than expected and let Mitchell go just hours after the team’s final game this season (a 144-109 victory against New Orleans).
Minnesota was 29-53 under Mitchell this season, who had to step in as head coach when Flip Saunders had to step away due to the illness that, not much later, took his life. The Timberwolves had a solid offense and improved over the course of the season — highlighted by a late-season victory over the Warriors — but the team had a bottom five defense.
This is going to be one of the most sought after coaching jobs in the NBA this summer because Minnesota has the best young core in the NBA with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, and more. This team is poised to be very good in a few seasons.
Minnesota will be able to get interviews with the biggest name coaches available — Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau would take a long look at this job if offered, for example. Owner Glen Taylor also is rumored to like the idea of giving that kind of coach final say on player personnel, ala Stan Van Gundy or Doc Rivers. GM Milt Newton will stay on in his job, but depending on the coaching hire could have a new boss.