Tom Thibodeau Rumors
Rubio said he was pleased by Thibodeau’s hiring and believes the new coaching staff will make a big difference on a young, impressionable roster. “I think we’ve got all the pieces together to make something happen,” he said. “I’m really excited about the new coach and the new staff. They have a lot of years in their backpack and really can teach us how to reach the next level. I think we have the tools. We just have to put all them together.”
Thibodeau has studied Rubio as an NBA player, and an Olympian. ‘‘I’ve watched him quite a bit,’’ Thibodeau said Thursday at the U.S. team practice. ‘‘I watched a lot of our games from last year and of course here. And from coaching against him I think I have a pretty good feel for all of the things he brings to a team. ‘‘He has the ability to make other people a lot better. He gets easy baskets for everybody. Very unselfish, plays for the team. We’re concerned, but I’m glad that he’s healthy. I had a chance to talk to him yesterday for a few minutes, and he seems to be doing well.
Saunders’ position on the staff appeared to be in limbo when the Wolves relieved interim coach Sam Mitchell of his duties at the end of the season and hired Tom Thibodeau as head coach and president of basketball operations in April. The Wolves announced in May that many members of the front office and assistant coach Sidney Lowe would not be retained. Yet Saunders is still around. Saunders said he treated that time of uncertainly like he treats anything in life. “You just take things day by day and do the best you can with them and you do something until somebody tells you you don’t do it anymore,” Saunders said. “So that’s my approach. … I grew up in this business, I understand how things go.”
“It’s a shorter game, a 40-minute game, and you can never let your guard down,” Team USA assistant coach Tom Thibodeau said in a SportsCenter interview after the game. “We felt that that’s what we did. When things aren’t going well, we still have to play within a team concept and play together both offensively and defensively. The way this [international] game is played. … You have to be tied together and you have to be able to sustain your concentration and effort through an entire possession. We didn’t finish our defense as well as we could have.”
SI: [Against Australia] you guys finished the game with Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. It seems like basketball’s evolved to even since the World Championships in 2014. What do you think of how quickly this has all changed? Thibodeau: I don’t think it’s changed dramatically. Size is still very important. What has changed is having guys who can play multiple positions. I think every team has to have the ability to do both. You have to be able to play big, and you know, everyone talks about Golden State playing small, but most of the time they’re playing big. And then they adjust and they’ll go with their small lineup, where they have a lot of 6’7 or 6’8 guys who are interchangeable. Really, that’s the way we’re built. We have two traditional centers with great size, and then we have the versatility of Draymond. That’s what makes Draymond so unique. His ability to play three or four positions, and then when you do play small, you’re not sacrificing you’re defensive rebounding. It’s a different look for teams. I think teams are moving in that direction.
Thibodeau said he will inherit his team with a clean slate, starting fresh with every player regardless of past reputation. “My experience has always been you have to base how you feel about people based on your own experiences,” he said. “Sometimes you hear things and then you find out that perception is not correct. If you believe in the goodness in everybody and try to do the right things and be honest with people, by telling the truth you can build trust and that’s how we try to move forward.”