Timberwolves assistant coach Rick Brunson resigned abruptly Tuesday amid reports the team was investigating complaints that he behaved improperly toward women.
Brunson was one of four assistants to Wolves president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau, along with Andy Greer, Ed Pinckney and Ryan Saunders.
An NBA source confirmed Brunson had been the subject of complaints, and the team issued this statement: “Our entire organization — made up of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Minnesota Lynx and Iowa Wolves — is deeply committed to creating a safe work environment for our employees, partners and fans.
“Our teams strive to have our actions reflect our values each and every day. We work to maintain high standards of conduct and expect our staff to lead by example. We did not believe Mr. Brunson’s conduct was consistent with those standards.”
ESPN reported that, according to a source, one of the women allegedly involved is a member of the media.
Brunson’s attorney, in an interview with the New York Daily News, denied any wrongdoing.
“Contrary to erroneous reports there have been no findings of any wrongdoing by Rick as any proper investigation by the Timberwolves would have shown,” Alan Milstein told the Daily News.
Brunson, 45, played nine seasons in the NBA, including for two teams (New York and Houston) where Thibodeau was an assistant coach. Brunson was an assistant coach for Denver, Charlotte and two seasons in Chicago (under Thibodeau) before joining Thibodeau’s staff in Minnesota in 2016.
The Daily News, citing a source, said Brunson met with the Timberwolves human resources department in February to file a formal complaint about being harassed by a member of the basketball support staff regarding a social media post. Milstein hinted to the Daily News that Brunson might have been the victim of retaliation.
In 2015, Brunson was acquitted by a judge in Lake County, Ill., of all charges that he had sexually assaulted a female massage therapist. The charges of attempted sexual assault, battery and domestic battery stemmed from an incident in April 2014 at a Vernon Hills, Ill., health club. Brunson admitted he and the women had an ongoing extramarital affair, but said the incident was part of a consensual act and that the woman had asked him for money.
He did not work in basketball from the time of the charges until Thibodeau was hired as Timberwolves coach for the 2016-17 season and placed Brunson on staff.
Brunson’s son, Jalen, was college basketball’s player of the year at Villanova, where he won two NCAA titles; Jalen Brunson has declared for the NBA draft.
On Monday, the Timberwolves dismissed player development coach Vince Legarza, shooting coach Pete Patton and assistant video coordinator Wes Bohn. The moves were not related to the Brunson case.
Staff writer Kent Youngblood contributed to this story.