Like most expansion teams, the Timberwolves struggled in their early years, but after the acquisition of Kevin Garnett in the 1995 NBA Draft, the team qualified for the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons from 1997 to 2004. Despite losing in the first round in their first seven attempts, the Timberwolves won their first division championship in 2004 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals that same season. Garnett was also named the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for that season. The team then went into rebuilding mode for more than a decade after missing the postseason in 2005, and traded Garnett to the Boston Celtics in 2007, where he would win a NBA championship with them in 2008. Garnett returned to the Timberwolves in a February 2015 trade and finished his career there, retiring in the 2016 offseason. The Timberwolves ended a 14-year playoff drought when they returned to the postseason in 2018.
NBA basketball returned to the Twin Cities in 1989 for the first time since the Minneapolis Lakers departed for Los Angeles in 1960 when the NBA granted one of its four new expansion teams on April 22, 1987 (the others being the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, and the Miami Heat) to original owners Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner to begin play for the 1989–90 season. (There were two American Basketball Association franchises, the Minnesota Muskies, in 1967-68, and the Minnesota Pipers, in 1968-69.) The new team conducted a " name the team " contest . They selected two finalists Timberwolves and Polars in December 1986. The team then asked the 842 city councils in Minnesota to select the winner. Timberwolves prevailed nearly 2 to 1. The team was officially named the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 23, 1987. Minnesota is home to the largest population of timberwolves in the lower 48 states (at about 2,921).
1989–1995: Early years
The Timberwolves debuted on November 3, 1989, losing to the Seattle SuperSonics on the road 106–94. Five days later, they would make their home debut at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome losing to the Chicago Bulls 96–84. Just two nights later the Wolves would get their first win, beating the Philadelphia 76ers at home 125–118 on November 10. The Timberwolves, led by Tony Campbell with 23.2 ppg, went on to a 22–60 record, finishing in 6th place in the Midwest Division. Playing in the cavernous Metrodome, the expansion Timberwolves drew over 1 million fans (an NBA record for attendance) including the third-largest crowd in NBA history at 49,551 on April 17, 1990, which saw the Timberwolves lose to the Denver Nuggets 99–88 in the final home game of the season.
The next season the team moved into their permanent home, the Target Center, and improved somewhat, finishing 29–53. However, they fired their head coach Bill Musselman. They fared far worse in the 1991–92 NBA season under Musselman's successor, ex-Celtics coach Jimmy Rodgers, finishing with an NBA-worst 15–67 record. Looking to turn the corner, the Wolves hired former Detroit Pistons general manager Jack McCloskey to the same position, but even with notable first-round selections such as Christian Laettner and Isaiah Rider, the Timberwolves were unable to duplicate McCloskey's "Detroit Bad Boys" success in the Twin Cities, finishing 19–63 and 20–62 the next two seasons. One of the few highlights from this era was when the Target Center served as host of the 1994 All-Star Game where Rider won the Slam Dunk Contest with his between-the-leg "East Bay Funk Dunk".
As winning basketball continued to elude the Wolves, Ratner and Wolfenson nearly sold the team to New Orleans interests in 1994 before NBA owners rejected the proposed move. Eventually, Glen Taylor bought the team and named Kevin McHale general manager. The Wolves finished 21–61 in 1994–95, and the future looked bleak. However, a change was on the horizon.
1995–2007: The Kevin Garnett era
In the 1995 draft, the Timberwolves selected high school standout Kevin Garnett in the first round (5th overall), and Flip Saunders was named head coach. Christian Laettner was traded along with Sean Rooks to the Atlanta Hawks for Andrew Lang and Spud Webb. Also, first-round pick Donyell Marshall was traded the previous season for Golden State Warriors' forward Tom Gugliotta. These trades paved the way for rookie Kevin Garnett to become the go-to player inside. Garnett went on to average 10.4 ppg in his rookie season as the Wolves finished in 5th place in the Midwest Division, with a 26–56 record.
In 1996, the Wolves added another star player in the draft, swapping Ray Allen to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to Stephon Marbury, the 4th overall pick. The addition of Marbury had a positive effect on the entire team, as Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta became the first Wolves to be selected to the All-Star team. Gugliotta and Garnett led the Timberwolves in scoring as the team made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with a record of 40–42. However, in the playoffs the Timberwolves made a quick exit as they were swept by the Houston Rockets in 3 straight games. The T-Wolves also decided to change their image by changing their team logo and colors, adding black to the team colors and replacing the original logo with a logo featuring a snarling wolf looming over a field of trees. It was also during the season that Minnesota began to play on a parquet floor.
In 1997, Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury established themselves as two of the brightest rising stars in the NBA. Garnett averaged 18.5 ppg and 9.6 rebounds per game, while Marbury averaged 17.7 ppg and dished out 8.6 assists per game. Despite losing leading scorer Tom Gugliotta for half the season the Timberwolves went on to post their first winning season at 45–37 making the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. After dropping Game 1 on the road to the Seattle Supersonics in the playoffs the Timberwolves earned their first postseason win in Game 2 winning in Seattle 98–93. As the series shifted to Minnesota the Timberwolves had an opportunity to pull off the upset as they won Game 3 by a score of 98–90. However, the Wolves dropped Game 4 at home as the Sonics went on to win the series in 5 games.
In 1998, a year after signing Kevin Garnett to an unprecedented 6-year, $126 million contract, the Timberwolves were used as the poster child of irresponsible spending as the NBA endured a 4-month lockout that wiped out much of the season. With an already cap-heavy payroll the Wolves were forced to let Tom Gugliotta walk away in part because they wanted to save money in order to sign Stephon Marbury to a long-term contract and in part because Tom Gugliotta did not want to play with Stephon Marbury. This move proved unsuccessful, however, as Stephon Marbury wanted to be the biggest star on a team and subsequently forced an in-season trade by refusing a contract extension. In the 3-team midseason deal that sent Marbury to the New Jersey Nets the Wolves got Terrell Brandon in return and a first round draft pick in the 1999 draft (which turned out to be the sixth pick). The Wolves made the playoffs for the 3rd straight season by finishing in 4th place with a 25–25 record. In the playoffs the Timberwolves were beaten by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.
In 1999, the Timberwolves drafted Wally Szczerbiak with the sixth pick in the draft. He had a solid season finishing 3rd on the team in scoring with 11.6 ppg. Led by Kevin Garnett, who averaged 22.9 ppg and 11.8 rebounds per game, the Timberwolves enjoyed their first 50-win season finishing in 3rd place with a solid record of 50–32. However, in the playoffs the Wolves fell in the first round again, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in 4 games.
Guard Malik Sealy was killed in a car accident in the summer of 2000 by a drunk driver. Souksangouane Phengsene, was driving the wrong way down the freeway Sealy was driving on, causing the fatal crash in his Land Rover. Sealy's number has since been retired, with the number 2 jersey memorialized with Sealy's name on a banner hanging from the rafters of Target Center. The drunk driver was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to four years in prison. He was previously arrested for drunk driving in Iowa in 1997 and has since been arrested twice more for driving while intoxicated in 2006 and 2008.
Also in that season, a free agent deal signed by Joe Smith was voided by the NBA, who ruled that the Timberwolves violated proper procedure in signing the contract. The league stripped the T-Wolves of five draft picks (first round 2001-05), it was eventually reduced to three first round picks (2001, 02, 04), fined them $3.5 million and suspended general manager Kevin McHale for one year. (Smith would eventually sign with the Detroit Pistons before re-signing with the Wolves in 2001.) Despite the trouble the Wolves made the playoffs for the 5th straight season with a 47–35 record. In the playoffs the Wolves were eliminated in the first round again by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games in the spring of 2001.
With the arrival of newcomers Gary Trent, Loren Woods, Maurice Evans and the return of Joe Smith; the Wolves started the season on fire by winning their first six games and a franchise-best 30–10 start. One of the wins included a franchise record 53 point over Chicago in November. They would finish with a 50–32 record, their second ever 50 win season that was highlighted by another All-Star appearance by Garnett and a breakout season by Wally Szczerbiak, who earned his first All-Star appearance. Once again, Minnesota lost in the first round of the playoffs, getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks in three straight.
The 2002–03 season seemed to look up for the Wolves. Kevin Garnett had a great season, finishing second in MVP voting while averaging a solid 23.0 ppg and 13.4 rebounds per game as the Timberwolves finish in 3rd place with a 51–31 record. As a result, they were awarded home court advantage for the first time when facing the three-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. After being blown out at home in Game 1, the Timberwolves had a chance to take a 3–1 series lead as they led heading into the 4th quarter of Game 4 in Los Angeles. However, the Lakers came back to win the game on the way to winning the series in six games, and the Timberwolves were eliminated in the first round for the 7th straight year.
2003–04 season: Garnett's MVP season
In 2003, Rob Babcock was promoted to vice-president of player personnel, and he and general manager Kevin McHale made a series of strong off-season moves in an attempt to get the team over the hump and beyond the first round of the playoffs. They made two important trades, sending away forward Joe Smith and guard Terrell Brandon in a multi-player deal for Ervin Johnson, Sam Cassell and embattled guard Latrell Sprewell. They also signed sharp-shooter and Minnesota native Fred Hoiberg, and former #1 pick Michael Olowokandi as free agents, with both becoming key contributors during the season. The Timberwolves rounded out their bench by signing veteran role players Trenton Hassell, Troy Hudson, and Mark Madsen, the latter coming off an NBA Championship with the Lakers.
Despite injuries to a revitalized Olowokandi (who missed half the season) and 6th man Wally Szczerbiak (who only played in 28 games), the re-vamped Timberwolves became the team to beat during the 2003–04 NBA season, finishing the season as the top seed in the Western Conference with a record of 58–24. Garnett had his best season to date, and both Sprewell and Cassell had career years as well. Garnett and Cassell both made the all-star team, and after the season, Garnett was named 1st Team All NBA, and earned his first MVP award averaging 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
During the 2004 NBA playoffs, the Wolves won their first ever playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, before beating the Sacramento Kings in a hard-fought seven game series to advance to the franchise's first Western Conference Finals. Kevin Garnett leapt upon the scorer's table upon the winning Game 7 in the Sacramento series, which became one of the more iconic moments in Minnesota sports history. The Timberwolves' run ended in the Western Conference finals as the team lost to the Los Angeles Lakers once again in six games. Sam Cassell injured his groin during game 7 against the Kings, doing his infamous big balls dance after knocking down the series clinching bucket, and as a result, only played only sparingly during the Lakers series. Many around the NBA, including both Flip Saunders and Phil Jackson believe that had he been healthy, the Wolves would have advanced to the finals. The Lakers would go on to lose to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals in five games.
Departure of Flip Saunders
In the 2004–05 season, the Wolves kept the same team from the previous season. The team was plagued with contract disputes and the complaining of key players Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, and Troy Hudson. Coach Flip Saunders was replaced in midseason by GM Kevin McHale, who took over the team for the rest of the season. The Timberwolves finished 44–38, and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years. They missed the playoffs by 1 game, to the Memphis Grizzlies.
During the 2005 offseason, Kevin McHale and the Wolves started their search for a head coach. McHale interviewed Seattle assistant coach Dwane Casey, San Antonio Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo, former coach John Lucas and Wolves assistants Randy Wittman, Sidney Lowe and Jerry Sichting, among others.
On June 17, 2005, the Timberwolves hired Dwane Casey as the new head coach. This was Casey's first head coaching job. He was the Wolves' 7th head coach in their 16-year history.
In the 2005 Draft, the Timberwolves selected Rashad McCants, a shooting guard from North Carolina with the 14th overall pick of the 1st round. The Timberwolves also selected Bracey Wright, a guard from Indiana with the 17th pick of the 2nd round (47th overall).
During the offseason, they traded All-Star Sam Cassell and a protected future first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers. They also signed free agent Nikoloz Tskitishvili.
On January 26, 2006, the Wolves traded forward Wally Szczerbiak, centers Dwayne Jones and Michael Olowokandi, and a future first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics. In return, they received forward/guard Ricky Davis, center Mark Blount, forward Justin Reed, guard Marcus Banks, and two second-round draft picks. In a separate trade on the same day, the Timberwolves traded Nikoloz Tskitishvili to the Phoenix Suns for a 2006 second-round draft pick. The Timberwolves finished 33–49, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
In the 2006 NBA draft, the Timberwolves selected future Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy with the 6th overall pick, Craig Smith with the 36th pick, Bobby Jones with the 37th pick and center Loukas Mavrokefalidis with the 57th pick. The Timberwolves traded Brandon Roy to the Portland Trail Blazers for Randy Foye and cash considerations. The Timberwolves then traded forward Bobby Jones to the Philadelphia 76ers for a 2007 second-round pick and cash.
On January 23, GM Kevin McHale fired head coach Dwane Casey and replaced him with Randy Wittman. McHale explained in a news conference that it was inconsistency by Casey that led to the firing. Casey had compiled an overall record of 53–69. They finished the 2006–07 season with a record of 32–50, allowing them to keep their 2007 first-round pick.
2007–2010: Post-Kevin Garnett era
On July 31, 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves reached a deal to trade All-Star Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, two first-round draft picks, and cash considerations. This is the largest combination of players and picks ever traded for a single player in NBA history. Garnett and the Celtics went on to win the 2008 NBA Finals in six games over the Los Angeles Lakers.
That summer, the Timberwolves traded Mike James and Justin Reed to the Houston Rockets for Juwan Howard. In October of the same year, the Timberwolves waived Howard after reaching a contractual buyout agreement, worth $10 million of roughly $14.25 million which Minnesota would have owed him. The team also traded Ricky Davis and Mark Blount to the Miami Heat in exchange for the Heat's Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien, and a 2008 protected first-round draft pick.
Minnesota began the NBA preseason with two games in London and Istanbul, as part of NBA Europe Live 2007. On October 10, The Wolves lost to Kevin Garnett and the revamped Boston Celtics 92–81. To start the season, the Wolves began 0–5 before finally ending the drought with a home win over Sacramento. That drought also brought about speculation of the possible dismissal of current coach Randy Wittman. The youngest team in the NBATemplate:Citation needed began adjusting to life after trading franchise star Kevin Garnett to Boston, meanwhile playing without budding talent Randy Foye for the first half of the season. Guards Sebastian Telfair and Marko Jaric were deputized as starting point guards during Foye's injury absence. The Timberwolves finished the season 22–60. On a handful of occasions during the season, the team showed flashes of its potential in wins or very close contests with top-tier teams.
In the 2008 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves selected O.J. Mayo out of Southern California with the third overall pick. When the draft concluded, the Timberwolves traded Mayo, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner, and Marko Jaric to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for the 5th overall pick Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Jason Collins, and Brian Cardinal in a move that Jim Stack called, "a deal we couldn’t pass up.”
In 2008, in celebration of the franchise's twentieth anniversary, the team unveiled a new logo and uniforms. The new designs first appeared in the first preseason game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on October 14, 2008. They also refurbished the floor at Target Center, returning to the traditional floor pattern and added touches of varnish while exposing most of the hardwood.
On December 8, 2008, after a 23-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that dropped the team to 4–15, the Timberwolves fired head coach Randy Wittman and Kevin McHale took over. McHale also relinquished his vice president of basketball operations duties. It was unclear whether McHale's future with the team was dependent on the success or progress of the team which he had put together over the previous four years.
Those questions seemed to be answered when the Timberwolves went 10-4 for the month of January, giving McHale the coach of the month honors. But on February 8, 2009, the team's main star Al Jefferson tore his ACL in his right knee in a game at New Orleans, sidelining him for the rest of the season. At the time of the injury, Jefferson was having his best season to date, averaging 23 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. Without Jefferson and Corey Brewer (who also suffered a season-ending injury), the Wolves sputtered, to finish with a 24-58 record.
On June 17, 2009, new president of basketball operations David Kahn announced that McHale would not be returning to the team as head coach. Kahn did not give a specific reason for McHale's dismissal only saying "this is going to be a transition period." For his part, McHale said he wanted to come back but was not offered a contract. Later, in August, the Timberwolves announced the signing of Kurt Rambis, then an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers, to a four-year, $8 million contract to be their new head coach. With Kurt Rambis, the team stumbled to the second worst record in the League, behind the New Jersey Nets. The Timberwolves yielded only 15 victories.
The Timberwolves and Washington Wizards were involved in a summertime trade that sent Mike Miller and Randy Foye to the Wizards for three players and the 5th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft. After the trade, the Timberwolves had four first round picks in the 2009 NBA Draft.
The Timberwolves used the fifth pick of the draft on point guard Ricky Rubio out of Spain. They then selected Jonny Flynn out of Syracuse University with the sixth pick, and finally Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, both out of North Carolina, with the 18th and 28th picks. Lawson was then traded to the Denver Nuggets.
The Wolves would make headlines when Rubio decided to stay in Spain for another two years after they were unable to negotiate a contract buyout with DKV Joventut, the Spanish team for which Rubio plays. While Rubio remains in Spain, the Timberwolves maintain his draft rights in the NBA.
The Timberwolves used the fourth pick of the draft on small forward Wesley Johnson out of Syracuse University. Lazar Hayward out of Marquette University was selected as the 30th pick. In the second round, Nemanja Bjelica out of Serbia and Paulao Prestes out of Brazil were selected as the 35th and 45th picks respectively. Prestes is expected to remain in overseas for the upcoming season.
2010–2014: The Kevin Love era
On July 12, 2010, Minnesota traded for Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley the second pick from the 2008 NBA Draft. In a locally untelevised game on November 12, 2010, Kevin Love grabbed an astounding franchise-record 31 rebounds and scored 31 points, the NBA's first 30-30 game in 28 years.
Love was later named an All Star for the 2010-2011 NBA season, the franchise's first All Star selection since Kevin Garnett in 2007. Love would later break Garnett's team record of 37 straight double-doubles on February 8, 2011 in a win over the Houston Rockets. On March 8, 2011, Love acquired his 52nd straight double-double, surpassing the mark of Moses Malone for the most consecutive double-doubles since the NBA/ABA merger in a win over the Indiana Pacers.
On February 21, 2011, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos were traded to the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets respectively for Knicks Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry (plus $3 million in cash from New York and a 2015 second-round draft pick from Denver) as part of a larger trade that sent all-star Carmelo Anthony from Denver to New York.
On the downside, with a 121–102 loss to the Houston Rockets, the Timberwolves fell to 17–65, finishing last in the Western Conference for the second straight year. They also clinched the 2010–11 NBA season's worst record. During the offseason, the Timberwolves were finally able to bring 2009 fifth overall pick Ricky Rubio over from Spain. In the 2011 NBA draft, with the second overall pick, the Timberwolves selected Derrick Williams of Arizona. The Timberwolves then traded guard Jonny Flynn and the draft rights to Donatas Motiejūnas (No. 20) to the Houston Rockets for center Brad Miller, the draft rights to Nikola Mirotić (No. 23), Chandler Parsons (No. 38) and a future first-round pick. The Timberwolves traded Mirotic's rights to the Chicago Bulls for the rights to Norris Cole (No. 28) and Malcolm Lee (No. 43). The Timberwolves then sold the rights to Parsons back to the Rockets. The Timberwolves traded Norris Cole (No. 28) to the Miami Heat for the draft rights to Bojan Bogdanovic (No. 31), a future second-round pick and cash considerations. The Timberwolves then traded Bogdanovic's rights to the New Jersey Nets for a future second-rounder and cash. The Trail Blazers traded the draft rights to Tanguy Ngombo (No. 57) to the Timberwolves.
On July 12, 2011, Kurt Rambis was fired as coach of the team after compiling a 32–132 record in two seasons with the team. On September 13, 2011, the team announced that they had hired Rick Adelman to be the team's new head coach.
The Timberwolves began the 2011–12 NBA season with a 17–17 record before the All-Star break. On March 9, 2012, Rubio tore his left ACL and LCL in a collision with Kobe Bryant. The injury ended his season and severely hurt the Timberwolves' chances of making the playoffs. Despite being in contention at mid-season, the team ultimately failed to reach the postseason for the eighth straight year due to injuries to a number of key players. The team finished with a record of 26–40, with the only win of the team's final 14 games coming against the Detroit Pistons. The team traded the 18th overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft to the Houston Rockets for Chase Budinger.
On June 26, 2012, the Timberwolves selected Robbie Hummel with the 58th overall pick, the team's only selection during the draft. During the offseason, the team signed former Timberwolves draft pick Brandon Roy to a two-year, $10 million contract. The deal was announced on July 31. With the inclusion of Roy in the shooting guard position, players that also signed during the offseason included Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved and Louis Amundson. While technically in playoff contention early, multiple injuries began to plague the team. Roy, Budinger, Lee and free agent signing Josh Howard succumbed to knee injuries. The mood of despair was shortly lifted by the splashy return of Rubio. But not long after, Love, who missed the first nine games of the season after fracturing the third and fourth metacarpals in his right hand in a preseason home workout, suffered a recurrence of the injury in a win over the Denver Nuggets on January 3. One of the few highlights in the second half of the season was Rubio's triple-double performance during a surprising win over the then-first place San Antonio Spurs, albeit without Spurs stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan playing due to injury. On April 6, in a game against the Detroit Pistons, Adelman won his 1000th game as a head coach. This season marked the first time the franchise had won at least 30 games without Kevin Garnett on the roster. The team decided to part ways with David Kahn after the season ended, with Flip Saunders being brought in to replace him. In the 2013 NBA draft, the team traded the 9th overall pick Trey Burke for Shabazz Muhammad (14th pick) and Gorgui Dieng (21st pick) in the first round from the Utah Jazz.
On March 28, 2014, the Timberwolves set a franchise record for points in a regular season game with a 143–107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The win also marked the Timberwolves' first season-series win over the Lakers since the 2005–06 season. The team accumulated 40 wins for the first time since the 2005 season, but missed the playoffs for the tenth consecutive year, despite holding the leagues highest point differential at the end of the season. On April 21, 2014, Rick Adelman announced his retirement from coaching in the NBA. Adelman acquired a 97–133 record in three seasons with the team.
2014–2020: Wiggins/Towns era
On August 23, 2014, the Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Philadelphia 76ers agreed on a three-way trade that would send Kevin Love to the Cavaliers to join LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Minnesota received Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, and a trade exception as part of the deal. The 76ers received Alexey Shved, Luc Mbah a Moute, and a 2015 first-round pick via the Miami Heat.
The 2014–15 season marked a new era for the Timberwolves, beginning with the Kevin Love trade. Flip Saunders was promoted to head coach, making it his second stint with the Timberwolves after coaching the team from 1995 to 2005. The Timberwolves started the new season with a 105–101 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, with Wiggins making his debut. The team recorded its first win the following game, a 97–91 victory over the Detroit Pistons. On November 12, 2014, the Timberwolves played an international home game at Mexico City Arena against the Houston Rockets. The Timberwolves had a 16–66 record for the season and missed the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year.
Despite this, Wiggins was selected as the NBA Rookie of the Year, the first player in franchise history to be so honored. Draft pick Zach LaVine gained league notoriety after winning the Slam Dunk Contest. LaVine and Wiggins, dubbed "The Bounce Brothers", were seen as being the future of the franchise.
Due to having the worst record in the NBA for the 2014–15 season, the Timberwolves had the highest chance, at 25%, to receive the first pick in the 2015 NBA draft at the 2015 NBA draft lottery. On May 19, the Timberwolves received the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft for the first time in franchise history. On June 25, the Timberwolves selected Karl-Anthony Towns as the number one pick and acquired Tyus Jones through a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 2015 season also saw the return of Kevin Garnett. In February, Garnett, at the time with the Brooklyn Nets, waived his no-trade clause to enable a trade back to Minnesota which sent Thaddeus Young to Brooklyn. In his first game back, Garnett resumed wearing the No. 21 jersey that had not been worn by any other Timberwolves player since his departure and the team defeated the Washington Wizards 97–77 at the Target Center.
On June 6, 2014, Saunders was named the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, returning to the franchise for a second stint. During his second stint with the Timberwolves, Saunders was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. As a result, during his recovery, he would delegate his coaching position over to assistant coach and former NBA Coach of the Year winner Sam Mitchell. On October 25, 2015, Saunders died at age 60. Mitchell took over as head coach. In honor of Saunders, the team announced that they would wear a patch reading "FLIP" on their uniforms for the duration of the 2015–16 season.
2016–2019: Tom Thibodeau saga
On April 20, 2016, the Timberwolves agreed to sign Tom Thibodeau to be their head coach and president of basketball operations. He was previously an assistant coach for the team from 1989 to 1991. On September 23, 2016, Kevin Garnett announced his retirement after 21 seasons in the NBA. He expressed interest in playing one more year for the Timberwolves but felt that his knees would be unable to hold up for the duration of the season. The Timberwolves ended their season with a 31–51 record, having only a two-game improvement from their previous season.
On June 22, 2017, the Timberwolves acquired Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft in trade for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and the 7th overall pick in the draft (used to select Lauri Markkanen). Later that night, the Timberwolves selected center Justin Patton with the 16th overall pick in the draft. Later, the team added Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose during free agency. The Timberwolves ended their season with a 47–35 record, which became the first winning season since the 2004–05 season, and secured the last spot in the playoffs on the final day of the regular season with a 112–106 win over the Denver Nuggets. The 2017–18 season also ended the longest streak without a playoff appearance at 13 seasons. The Timberwolves would be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Rockets in five games.
On November 12, 2018, the Timberwolves traded Butler and Justin Patton to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Šarić, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round draft pick.
On January 6, 2019, it was announced that Thibodeau was fired as head coach and president of basketball operations. After Thibodeau's firing, it was announced that Ryan Saunders would serve as interim head coach until a permanent head coach is found.
On May 1, it was announced that the Timberwolves had hired Gersson Rosas, who previously served as the Houston Rockets' executive vice president of basketball operations, as their new president of basketball operations. On May 20, after conducting interviews with several candidates, the Timberwolves announced that Ryan Saunders had been hired to a multi-year deal to become the team's permanent head coach, removing his "interim" status. With Rosas' hiring, the Timberwolves also made several front office changes in the organization.
Radio and television
The Timberwolves flagship station is KFAN 1130 AM. KFAN (known as WDGY until 1991) has been the flagship since the team's inception, except for a brief two year hiatus to KLCI BOB 106.1 FM for the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons. Alan Horton serves as the team's radio play-by-play announcer. WCCO-AM will become the flagship station in 2011-12 
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage
|1996-97||40||42||.488||Lost First Round||Houston 3, Minnesota 0|
|1997-98||45||37||.549||Lost First Round||Seattle 3, Minnesota 2|
|1998-99||25||25||.500||Lost First Round||San Antonio 3, Minnesota 1|
|1999-2000||50||32||.610||Lost First Round||Portland 3, Minnesota 1|
|2000-01||47||35||.573||Lost First Round||San Antonio 3, Minnesota 1|
|2001-02||50||32||.610||Lost First Round||Dallas 3, Minnesota 0|
|2002-03||51||31||.622||Lost First Round||LA Lakers 4, Minnesota 2|
|2003-04||58||24||.707|| Won First Round|
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
| Minnesota 4, Denver 1|
Minnesota 4, Sacramento 3
LA Lakers 4, Minnesota 2
|2017-18||47||35||.573||Lost First Round||Houston 4, Minnesota 1|
9 Playoff Appearances (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2018)
Division Titles 1- 2004 (Midwest Division)
- 2 Malik Sealy, F, 1999–2000
- 5 - Malik Beasley
- 9 - Allen Crabbe
- 23 - Jarrett Culver
- 12 - Jacob Evans
- 41 - Juan Hernangómez
- 16 - James Johnson
- 10 - Jake Layman
- 30 - Kelan Martin
- 6 - Jordan McLaughlin
- 4 - Jaylen Nowell
- 20 - Josh Okogie
- 11 - Naz Reid
- 0 - D'Angelo Russell
- 14 - Omari Spellman
- 32 - Karl-Anthony Towns
- 1 - Evan Turner
- 3 - Jarred Vanderbilt
(as of March 19, 2011) Bold denotes still active with team. Italics denotes still active in NBA.
- 1. Kevin Garnett (19,041)
- 2. Sam Mitchell (7,161)
- 3. Wally Szczerbiak (6,777)
- 4. Doug West (6,216)
- 5. Tony Campbell (4,888).
- 6. Christian Laettner (4,759).
- 7. Isaiah Rider (4,315).
- 8. Tom Gugliotta (4,201).
- 9. Al Jefferson (4,183).
- 10. Pooh Richardson (3,689).
- 11. Anthony Peeler (3,622).
- 12. Kevin Love (3,183)
- 13. Terrell Brandon (3,157).
- 14. Ryan Gomes (2,957).
- 15. Tyrone Corbin (2,833).
- 16. Stephon Marbury (2,826).
- 17. Troy Hudson (2,576).
- 18. Joe Smith (2,533).
- 19. Randy Foye (2,481).
- 20. Sam Cassell (2,402).
- 21. Latrell Sprewell (2,396).
- 22. Rasho Nesterovic (2,355).
- 23. Micheal Williams (2,247).
- 24. Rashad McCants (2,233).
- 25. Chuck Person (2,203).
- 26. Trenton Hassell (2,169).
- 27. Terry Porter (2,118).
- 28. Craig Smith (2,081).
- 29. Ricky Davis (2,063).
- 30. Corey Brewer (2,023).
- 1. Kevin Garnett (10,542)
- 2. Sam Mitchell (3,030)
- 3. Kevin Love (2,485)
- 4. Christian Laettner (2,225)
- 5. Al Jefferson (2,162)
- 6. Tom Gugliotta (1,970)
- 7. Wally Szczerbiak (1,932)
- 8. Rasho Nesterovic (1,711)
- 9. Joe Smith (1,561)
- 10. Doug West (1,559)
- 11. Felton Spencer (1,400)
- 12. Tyrone Corbin (1,262)
- 13. Ryan Gomes (1,215)
- 14. Dean Garrett (1,156)
- 15. Tony Campbell (1,083)
- 16. Anthony Peeler (1,058)
- 17. Craig Smith (1,053)
- 18. Trenton Hassell (935)
- 19. Tod Murphy (929)
- 20. Randy Breuer (916)
- 21. Isaiah Rider (873)
- 22. Eddie Griffin (867)
- 23. Thurl Bailey (837)
- 24. Pooh Richardson (804)
- 25. Luc Longley (792)
- 1. Kevin Garnett (4146)
- 2. Pooh Richardson (1973)
- 3. Terrell Brandon (1681)
- 4. Stephon Marbury (1393)
- 5. Micheal Williams (1239)
- 6. Doug West (1216)
- 7. Wally Szczerbiak (1190)
- 8. Terry Porter (1018)
- 9. Anthony Peeler (1000)
- 10. Troy Hudson (984)
- ↑ http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/media/10-11_Wolves_Media_Guide.pdf
- ↑ http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/wolves/mgmt.html
- ↑ http://www.apbr.org/attendance.html
- ↑ "Driver convicted in Malik Sealy death arrested again for DWI". USA Today. March 30, 2008. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/2008-03-30-2196930303_x.htm. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- ↑ Marc Stein (2007-06-14). "Rockets, Wolves finalize swap of Howard, James.". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2903593.
- ↑ ESPN - NBA Standings, Pro Basketball Standings, NBA Team Records
- ↑ http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4437300
- ↑ http://www.greenwichtime.com/sports/article/Timberwolves-introduce-Wesley-Johnson-537476.php#photo-6
- ↑ "Sources: Heat clear space, deal Beasley". ESPN. July 9, 2010. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5365794. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- ↑ Associated Press (2010-11-12). "Kevin Love posts NBA's 1st 30-30 game in 28 years as Knicks fade in 4th". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=301112016.
- ↑ http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/116706764.html
- Minnesota Timberwolves official web site
- Sports Encyclopedia Timberwolves Page
- Timberwolves information from 1989-present
- Timberwolves Central Discussion Community
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