Who Will Be the Minnesota Timberwolves next Head Coach? Five Candidates to Replace Tom Thibodeau

The Minnesota Timberwolves' already tumultuous season became even more chaotic on Sunday, when the team announced the firing of head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Last season, the 60-year-old led the Wolves to a first playoff appearance since 2004 but his credit quickly ran out and his three-year spell in Minneapolis came to an end. The offseason malaise sparked by Jimmy Butler's malcontent lingered into the autumn and while Minnesota eventually traded the four-time All-Star in November, it failed to ignite its season.

The Timberwolves were 4-7 when they sent Butler to Philadelphia and have gone 15-14 since, prompting the decision to fire Thibodeau and replace him with his assistant, Ryan Sanders, until the end of the season.

"We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him the best," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement. "These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt necessary to move our organization forward."

Here's a look at the candidates to replace Thibodeau on a permanent basis.

Ryan Saunders

Saunders was promoted as interim head coach shortly after Thibodeau was fired. Despite being just 32, the son of the late Flip Saunders has already accumulated a decade of experience in the NBA, serving as assistant for the Washington Wizards between 2009 and 2014 and later taking on the same role in Minneapolis.

According to Chris Hine of The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Taylor hopes Saunders will show he has what he takes to become a full-time coach and follow the path of his late father, Flip Saunders, who coached the Timberwolves for 11 seasons across two spells.

Fred Hoiberg

According to ESPN, the former Timberwolves guard is also reportedly in the picture to replace Thibodeau. It would not be an unknown scenario for Hoiberg, who took over from Thibodeau in Chicago in 2015, before being shown the door by the Bulls last month.

In three seasons in Chicago, Hoiberg led his team to the playoffs just once and it remains to be seen whether he would be eager to jump back into coaching after such a gruelling experience.

Stan Van Gundy

Unlike Saunders and Hoiberg, Van Gundy has no previous connection with Minnesota but he is arguably the most experienced free agent coach on the market.

The 59-year-old took his teams to the playoffs in seven of his 12 years as head coach in the NBA.

Chauncey Billups

The 2004 NBA champion has no previous coaching experience but Adrian Wojnarowski reported his ESPN colleague is among those being considered by the Timberwolves.

As is the case with Hoiberg, ESPN suggested Billups is reportedly in the frame for the role of head coach or general manager, but neither has been contacted yet.

Eric Musselman

After an inconsistent NBA career, Musselman restored his reputation in Nevada, leading the Wolf Pack to a 95-30 record in four seasons. The 54-year-old served as assistant in Minnesota in the 1990-91 campaign as part of his father's coaching staff and was close to Flip Saunders.

It remains to be seen whether he would leave the NCAA after developing Nevada into the sixth-ranked team in the country.

Tom Thibodeau
Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves complains about a call during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on January 2 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Who Will Be the Minnesota Timberwolves next Head Coach? Five Candidates to Replace Tom Thibodeau | Sports