The NBA has taken strict measures to limit the amount of contact between members of an organization, and those coming in from out of state will likely need to quarantine each time they travel. That wouldn’t have worked for Layden, who was consistently in and out of the Twin Cities last season.
Unable to find a better solution, the Wolves and Layden parted ways in the final year of the general manager’s contract, a source confirmed Thursday, Dec. 10 to the Pioneer Press. The Athletic was the first to report the decision.
Layden, an NBA lifer who had worked with the Jazz, Knicks and Spurs, signed a five-year deal to enter the organization alongside Tom Thibodeau back in 2016. The two were meant to work in lockstep, coming together to make collaborative decisions to chart the franchise’s part forward.
To some degree, that took place, with Layden managing the front office’s day-to-day operations while Thibodeau largely focused on the on-court product. But final decisions in regards to the roster always belonged to Thibodeau.
Layden and Thibodeau engineered the trade that brought Jimmy Butler to Minnesota back in 2017, a deal that resulted in the Wolves’ first playoff berth since 2004. But when Butler wanted out and the situation got messy at the start of the 2018-19 season, Layden and Thibodeau found themselves in a tough spot, trying to keep Butler on board before eventually dealing him to Philadelphia for Dario Saric and Robert Covington.
Thibodeau was fired a couple of months later, leaving Layden to run the franchise for the remainder of the season.
When Gersson Rosas was hired as the team’s president of basketball operations the following offseason, Layden was kept on board. He continued to provide insight all the way through the recent draft process, in which Minnesota selected Anthony Edwards No. 1 overall.
One of the last remaining tentacles of the Thibodeau regime, Layden had just one year remaining on his deal, and the expectation was it would have been his last in Minnesota regardless. That said, Layden is thought to be leaving the organization on great terms.
His early departure had little to do with performance or relationships, but instead is another side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.