Tom Thibodeau's two-and-a-half-year reign as the president and head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves came to an appropriately bizarre end Sunday, with the Wolves firing him moments after a 22-point win over the Lakers.
Here's a look back at the complicated imprint Thibodeau left on Minnesota.
Two of Thibodeau's three seasons as the boss in Minnesota can be classified as disappointing at best - if not downright disastrous - but he did help the Timberwolves end the second-longest playoff drought in NBA history.
Wolves fans hadn't tasted postseason basketball in 14 years before their first-round series against the top-seeded Rockets last spring, which Houston won 4-1. Despite the franchise's grand ambitions when it handed Thibodeau a five-year contract in 2016, that lone playoff appearance and Game 3 victory as an 8-seed go down as the peak of his tumultuous tenure.
Derrick Rose revival
One of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves under Thibs has been the reinvention of Derrick Rose as a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Rose is averaging 19 points per game while making the veteran's minimum and has been Minnesota's second-best player.
No one except Thibodeau was willing to take a flier on Rose after his disastrous stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was the only positive outcome of the grand "TimberBulls" experiment, as Rose finally got healthy and became a more mature version of the high-flying scorer he once was.
Both Butler trades
Thibodeau's tenure as the Wolves' president of basketball operations will ultimately be defined by two blockbuster trades: one to acquire Jimmy Butler, and the other to deal him away. You can quibble with the big-picture results - which essentially amounted to swapping Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn for Robert Covington and Dario Saric - and in hindsight it's fair to question whether Butler was the right guy to go after, but both deals were entirely defensible. Neither trade was a home run, but neither was remotely a failure.
For all the trouble he caused, Butler was as good as advertised, putting together a magnificent 2017-18 season to help Minnesota end its agonizing playoff drought. Thibodeau bears some responsibility for the way the situation ultimately combusted, but he managed to save face at a moment in which he appeared to have exhausted his leverage, sending Butler to Philadelphia in a move that has so far worked out as well as the Wolves could've hoped. Covington has changed the shape of their defense, Saric has bolstered a suddenly stout bench, and the resulting offensive shot redistribution has unshackled Karl-Anthony Towns. Even if you take the two trades holistically, the trio of LaVine, Markkanen, and Dunn isn't markedly better than the duo of Covington and Saric, especially when you consider roster fit.
All in all, Thibodeau's trade record lands on the positive side of the ledger.
The Butler standoff
Thibodeau managed to find a solid return for Butler in the end, but letting the stalemate fester for as long as it did may have ultimately been his downfall. Thibodeau sat on Butler's trade request for two months, leading the disgruntled star to take increasingly desperate and damaging measures in order to force the front office's hand. Owner Glen Taylor eventually intervened, leading to a communication breakdown as opposing teams heard contradictory messages from Thibodeau and Taylor regarding Butler's availability.
Not only was the whole saga - which included Butler calling out his teammates in practice and basically hijacking the team - an embarrassment for the already woebegone franchise, but it also threatened to destabilize the locker room and compromise Towns and Wiggins, who both started the year in states of catatonia. Butler helped submarine the first month of the Wolves' season, resulting in a 4-9 start and vaporizing the team's margin for error as it tries to fight its way back into the playoff picture. It could have, and should have, been avoided.
Thibodeau's shortsighted run as an executive handicapped him as a coach. He gave Andrew Wiggins nearly $150 million before he hit restricted free agency, alienating the perpetually underpaid Butler and taking away Minnesota's ability to offer him an extension last summer.
Wiggins' deal is hardly the only bad one on the books. Thibodeau signed Gorgui Dieng to a four-year, $64-million contract despite Towns already establishing himself as Minnesota's clear-cut center of the future, and proceeded to bench Dieng entirely when Taj Gibson became available. Thibodeau also inked Jeff Teague to a pricey three-year, $57-million deal to be a below-average starter at the point.
Taylor brought Thibodeau to Minnesota to restore the franchise to relevancy and set the Timberwolves up for sustained success. He accomplished neither.
Thibs took over a 29-win team, led by a pair of young stars in Towns and Wiggins, with nowhere to go but up and a bevy of hope to sell the fan base. Less than three years later, Towns has more often than not been criminally underutilized on offense despite remaining on the cusp of true superstardom, and Wiggins barely looks like an average NBA starter while making $148 million.
It doesn't help that both youngsters, the franchise, and Thibodeau himself became laughingstocks during the lowest points of the Butler drama. That's not the kind of relevancy Taylor had in mind.
In the end, Thibodeau leaves behind a capped-out team on pace for 38 wins and looking at a considerably dimmer future than the one he inherited, at least in the court of public opinion. The Athletic's Shams Charania reports increased fan apathy played a part in the firing, as Minnesota ranks 29th in average attendance this season, the same spot it occupied when Thibodeau was hired.
At least then, Taylor's Timberwolves were selling hope. What do they have to sell fans now that Thibodeau is gone? Whatever it is, it isn't worth $40 million.