Tom Thibodeau Rumors
When asked if he was humbled by last season, Thibodeau insists he wasn’t expecting greatness right away. “I didn’t know what to think going in,” Thibodeau says. “When you looked at the numbers, we had a minus-3.6 point differential (in 2015-16). I knew we were not close yet. I didn’t know how much of a jump Karl [-Anthony Towns], Andrew [Wiggins] and Zach [LaVine] could make.” And this much is true: the Timberwolves were not wolves, but puppies. The average age on the team was 24.0 years old, the lowest in the NBA according to Basketball-Reference.com, even younger than the infamously-green Philadelphia 76ers.
Now, Thibodeau can lean on Butler down the stretch, easing the burden on Wiggins and Towns’ shoulders in late-game situations. To Thibodeau, the Timberwolves didn’t blow leads because youngsters were worn down; they just didn’t have a bench. It was a roster weakness that Thibodeau admits now falls on him, the president. “We didn’t have depth,” Thibodeau says of last year. “I think a veteran understands that the fourth quarter is a lot different than the first three quarters. And Jimmy [Butler] has been one of the great finishers in our league.”
“I’ll go hit the gym tonight,” Butler said after that Oct. 10 practice. “I love this. Damn. I’m so fortunate and happy that I get to play basketball every day. And I don’t know what else to do, like it’s crazy. I’m up there with (Thibodeau). He just don’t leave the office. I leave the office, but I go home and work. I’ve got weights at the house, we got a gym right there. I’m working. I’m on you, Thibs, I’m on your tail.”
“He was out for a long time,” Thibodeau said. “But the entire training camp, he hasn’t missed anything. I think the more he plays the better it is for him. I think he’s building chemistry with the second unit, and that’s important. But there is a long way to go.”
“If you’re tired, do this [expletive] right,” Butler explained to The Vertical about how he drives the Timberwolves. “Do it again. If you do this [expletive] right, you won’t be as tired because we only have to do it one time. We need to do it 16 times if we don’t talk, if we don’t get it right. These three-hour practices, I don’t have a problem with them. Hell, stay in this [expletive] until 8 p.m. You tired? [Expletive] that. “Do it right. That’s the only way we’re going to win. When we spend time together, that’s what our time together is for. To get all of the terrible [expletive] habits out of the way. We have to be ready for what’s really coming.”
Butler, along with coach Tom Thibodeau, is trying to change that. It will be a process, but Butler isn’t afraid to be vocal about it with his new teammates. “I love holding everybody accountable,” Butler said after Friday’s practice. “If you’re doing something wrong, it’s not personal if someone’s cussing at you and all that good stuff. Everybody just wants to be great here. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to end up at the top. I think that’s why you play this game.”