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-good move by Minnesota. This team hires a coach with one of the best defensive systems in the league.
One of the NBA's most revered defensive minds is close to heading to one of the teams that needs him the most. The Minnesota Timberwolves are finalizing an agreement with former Chicago Bulls head man Tom Thibodeau for the dual role of head coach and president of basketball operations, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Former New York Knicks GM Scott Layden is expected to join Thibodeau to run the day-to-day front-office operations, according to Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski reported news linking Thibodeau to the job on Monday, but his sources suggested team control was a sticking point in the negotiations between the two parties. The veteran coach wanted final say over personnel decisions like hiring a general manager, drafting and free agent signings. With a reported agreement between the two nearly in place, it appears Thibodeau's wishes were granted.
Thibodeau is expected to make around $10 million per year after signing a five-year contract with Minnesota, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
Thibodeau was brusquely dismissed by the Bulls on May 28, 2015 and spent the past year out of the coaching game. He'll take the reins of a talented, but inexperienced, Timberwolves team that won only 29 games last year.
The impending move is a homecoming for the 58-year-old head coach. Thibodeau's first NBA job came as an assistant during Minnesota's debut season as an expansion team in 1989. He spent three seasons in Minneapolis before building a reputation as one of the game's most dynamic defensive coaches in stints with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, Knicks, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics.
That defensive expertise will help a young roster that ranked 27th out of 30 NBA teams in defensive efficiency last season. By comparison, Thibodeau's teams in Chicago never rated lower than 11th in the league and twice finished No. 1.
This impending hiring is the Timberwolves' latest attempt to recapture the glory of the Flip Saunders era at the turn of the millennium. Under Saunders and the leadership of superstar Kevin Garnett, the team recorded the franchise's only playoff appearances by qualifying for the postseason eight straight seasons between 1997 and 2004. With probable 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns leading a roster that also includes 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and enigmatic point guard Ricky Rubio, the team is hoping Thibodeau is the man to turn a talented team into a winning one.
Thibodeau was named the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2011 and has a 255-139 (.647) record in the pros. He's never endured a losing year as a head coach. If he can keep that streak alive, he'll give Minnesota its first winning season since 2004-05.
Layden has been in the NBA for more than 30 years. He was the Utah Jazz's general manager from 1992 to 1999, then served in the same capacity with the Knicks from 1999 to 2003. He later returned to the Jazz front office and has been San Antonio's assistant GM since 2012