Fans can joke all they want about the "TimberBulls," but head coach Tom Thibodeau firmly believes he's adding players that will make Minnesota better.
"To me, I don’t really care what other people think. I care about what we think," Thibodeau told NBA.com's Steve Aschburner this week when asked about the sarcastic nickname his Wolves have gained sarcastically referring to the Wolves as the Timberbulls because of the four ex-Bulls that have reunited with Thibodeau in Minnesota.
Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler were the first to arrive in Minnesota last summer. Derrick Rose followed as a late-season signing. And just last week the Wolves signed veteran forward Luol Deng, who Thibodeau thinks has a lot left in the tank after playing sparingly the last two seasons.
"I think all four of those guys have added a lot to our teams. So whether a guy has played for me before or in a system where Scott [Layden] had been before or maybe where one of our assistants had been, if you feel like you know a player well and he fits into your system, then why not do it?" Thibodeau told Aschburner.
Logic leads us to believe that Thibodeau truly does think his former Bulls can help him win in the loaded Western Conference. But the New York Post has another idea that doesn't seem too far out there.
"With his team’s once-shimmering future dimming quickly, Thibodeau is chasing veterans who haven’t played meaningful minutes in years. Perhaps he thinks they could help him light a fire under his talented young players in Towns and Andrew Wiggins, both who looked lost defensively last season. But if he, the coach, couldn’t do it, what makes him think anyone can?"
Rose, Butler, Deng and Gibson were big reasons why Chicago had one of the top defenses in the NBA when they played together 7-8 years ago. Then again, the game has changed dramatically since then, especially in the West where the Warriors and Rockets have opened the floor and sped things up.
Perhaps the most fascinating part of Aschburner's column is that he was told by a source that Deng was healthy all of last season despite playing just one game with the Lakers. It leads to speculation that either he wasn't good enough to crack the lineup, or much more likely that the Lakers simply elected to play the younger guys with hopes of grooming them for the future.
Meanwhile, Thibodeau is one player shy of reuniting the entire 2011-12 Bulls starting lineup: Joakim Noah, whom Marc Stein of the New York Times reports the Wolves have expressed no interest in.
But if Deng is as physically fit as Thibodeau claims he is, and he still has some tread on his tires, then the former All-Defensive team star could be a massive upgrade to Minnesota's rotation and depth.