On Wednesday, the Wolves agreed with Tom Thibodeau to handle both rules on a contract estimated to be worth $40 million over five seasons. The team also hired Scott Layden as general manager to handle the day-to-day duties of the front office. He'll make roughly $2 million per year.
"I started my NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves and it is an incredible opportunity to rejoin the organization at a time when they have what I believe to be the best young roster in the NBA," Thibodeau said in a statement, via ESPN. "Together with a great owner in Glen Taylor and a terrific basketball partner in Scott Layden, I look forward to building a winning culture that Minnesota sports fans can be proud of."
After a season of watching Sam Mitchell think it's still okay to play Kevin Martin and Tayshaun Prince big minutes en route to a 29-53 record, Taylor was aggressive in his pursuit of Thibodeau, who is known for getting the most out of his talent—almost to a fault.
But after a year away from coaching that included a sort of tour around the league to learn from successful organizations, it's entirely possible Thibodeau has bought in to the idea that players shouldn't be overexerted during the regular season.
Which is a good thing, because the Timberwolves have no shortage of young talent thanks to 2015 Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, shoe-in 2016 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns, and two-time dunk champion Zach LaVine.
Minnesota, owners of the fifth-worst record in the league, will also have a high pick in the 2016 NBA Draft—most likely th fifth or sixth pick, where they have a 62.1 percent chance of landing.
"We are extremely excited to welcome Tom Thibodeau back to the Timberwolves," Taylor said in a statement of his own. "Through this process we quickly identified Tom as the best leader to shape our talented team and help them realize their full potential.
"Tom's résumé speaks for itself. He is a proven winner, leader and one of the most well-respected NBA head coaches over the last decade. His teams have annually been among the league leaders in defense, and we are excited about the approach and mentality he will bring to that side of the ball. The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves has never been brighter, and we are very pleased to have Tom as our basketball operations leader moving forward."
"He knows what he's doing," Butler said. "He's very smart. He studies the game. And he'll do whatever it takes to win."
Layden was previously general manager of the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks, and was hired after spending four seasons as an assistant to San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford. He and Thibodeau worked together in New York, where the coach spent time as an assistant.