Tom Thibodeau: The right man has arrived at the right place at the perfect time

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have endured a tough last decade, to say the least.

They have failed to reach the postseason in the last 12 years and many men have attempted and failed to change that record. Seven coaches have tried their hand at steering the organisation, including two different stints for Flip Saunders and Kevin McHale, with Kurt Rambis, Dwane Casey, Randy Wittman, Rick Adelman and Sam Mitchell the other coaches to come up short.

In the last 10 years, the Timberwolves have only finished above 12th in the Western Conference once. Before this stretch of barren postseasons, Minnesota made it all the way to the conference finals behind MVP Kevin Garnett after finishing atop of the west.

How times change. Well, some things do. Garnett is actually still a part of the active roster in Minnesota and he turns 40 in May. The legendary power forward is still due to collect $8 million next season.

But that's the other end of the spectrum for the Timberwolves. In hiring Tom Thibodeau to succeed Mitchell, the last thing owner Glen Taylor was thinking about was the last remaining pillar of success from yesteryear.

He's thinking about Karl-Anthony Towns. He's thinking about Andrew Wiggins. He's thinking about Zach LaVine.

But, after spending three years together in Boston, Garnett had nothing but praise for his former coach. He labelled Thibodeau a "no-nonsense coach, but his personal authenticity and the success of his strategies endear him to his players."

Joakim Noah, another big man to play under the Timberwolves' new boss, praised his coaching abilities and credited him as the catalyst behind his Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014.

"I feel like I really improved as a player because of him," Noah said in reference to Thibodeau.

The structure of this deal is the most intriguing aspect. Thibodeau waited patiently for the right opportunity to come along after he was fired by the Chicago Bulls in May of last year.

Nearly 11 months later, a divine opportunity has presented itself. Taylor is tired of going around in circles and waiting for the rebuild to come to fruition. In Thibodeau, who started his coaching career as an assistant with the Timberwolves back in 1989, the franchise has acquired a man with a clear vision, a winning mentality and a habit of helping young stars realise their potential.

The 58-year-old won nearly 65 percent of his games over the five years he spent in Chicago and helped turn Derrick Rose from a raw prospect into a 22-year-old MVP - the youngest in NBA history.

Jimmy Butler blossomed under his stewardship into one of the best lockdown defenders at the two spot in the league with plenty of offensive weapons in his arsenal to boot.

Is it a coincidence that following Thibodeau's departure, the Bulls underwhelmed and failed to bring a postseason to the Windy City this year?

One could speculate not.

Taylor is looking for that same solid formula in Minnesota, but in order to get that, he's been forced to hand over the keys to the kingdom and also appoint Thibodeau as the president of basketball operations in the process.

The Connecticut-native has recruited Scott Layden from the San Antonio coaching staff to act as his general manager and help implement his strategy. Packing the franchise full of winners is prudent, but this essentially ensures that in the five years that Thibodeau is signed on for, he will live and die by his own vision.

In Chicago, it didn't work like that. Tensions with the front office resulted in his dismissal at the United Center as the strong-willed coach continuously had a conflict of opinions with the powers that be.

With the Wolves, he can build his roster and, most importantly, help it grow. In Towns, Thibodeau has, potentially, the best big man of his generation to build around. Wiggins and LaVine have shown their own worth over the course of the last campaign and the prospect of moulding them the way he did Rose, Butler and Noah must be a mouth-watering prospect for the tactician.

Also, his work with Team USA and the relationships he has built with the players is said to give the head honcho a supreme confidence he can attract superstars in free agency.

How far does that reach extend? Pau Gasol? Kevin Durant? Dare we think, LeBron James?

This is exactly the right appointment at the right time. The Timberwolves are a roster poised to break out into playoff contenders and if moulded in the proven hands of Thibodeau, the sky is the limit for some of the talents at their disposal.

Thibodeau said at the press conference for his arrival: "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."

With a lottery draft pick this summer and room for a max-contract in free agency, how 2011 NBA Coach of the Year performs in those two areas will make his immediate intentions abundantly clear.

So, watch him go to work.

Western Conference
Minnesota Timberwolves
Northwest Division
Zach LaVine
Karl-Anthony Towns
Andrew Wiggins
Chicago Bulls
Central Division
Eastern Conference

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