The Timberwolves just ended a 13-year playoff drought. They have multiple stars in Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns. Tom Thibodeau is making headway in remaking the franchise, as he was hired to do.
So, everything is rosy in Minnesota, right?
Being at Games 3 and 4, I found it interesting, fascinating, however you want to describe it, the amount of people that sought me out, within the organization, to just spew whatever. Put it this way: To suggest it’s a cohesive bunch, that organization, to think that they’re holding hands singing Kumbaya, is laughable. There is a lot of disconnect. Now, where do you want to begin on that? Should Tom Thibodeau know the names of people on the business side, on the marketing side? There may be some people listening say, “No. Why? Win games. He won games. Who cares?” But there are people upset that he alienates himself. There’s a big wall up. He’s got his guard up constantly. He always appears to be grumpy.
You get to 47 wins. You sell out the building 16 times. The TV ratings go up 78 percent. And, again, that’s from rock bottom a year ago, but still. The TV ratings go up 78 percent. There should be a ton to celebrate, right? Just on the surface. You look at those things. But I’m telling you, there is so much angst, and I’m telling you, disconnect behind the scenes.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Thibodeau have different sensibilities. Thibodeau focuses on winning, no matter how many feathers must be ruffled in the process. Taylor prefers a more genteel approach.
There are real questions whether they can coexist long-term.
This is why it was so fascinating Taylor hired Thibodeau as president-coach in the first place. Thibodeau showed his coaching acumen with the Bulls. But he also did so in a hard-driving way that suggested trouble transitioning to the wider perspective necessary of a team president.
Debate how involved Thibodeau should be in the business side. If Taylor wants him to be more cordial to people on the business side, that alone makes it an issue.
Thibodeau’s on-court success will buy him time. Winning cures most ills.
But expectations are only increasing after Minnesota lost in five games to the Rockets in the first round. Thibodeau’s style – which includes a stubbornness that makes him unlikely to change that style – could give him less margin for error.