Flip Saunders to Coach Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations and part owner Flip Saunders will also be the team's head coach, per multiple reports.

Jun 6 2014, 12:07am CDT | by

Flip Saunders to Coach Minnesota Timberwolves
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations and part owner Flip Saunders will also be the team's head coach, per multiple reports. 

Jerry Zgoda of The Minneapolis Star Tribune confirmed the news in his June 5 update

"Flip Saunders will be the next Timberwolves coach and will be introduced Friday in a Target Center news conference

"He confirmed in a text message this morning that he will coach the team but declined further comment until tomorrow. 

"According to sources close to the situation, there is is no specified length of time that he'll coach, although he has suggested before it would only be a season or two if he did decide to coach.

"When it's all sorted out, Saunders' staff is expected to include former Wolves players Sam Mitchell and Sidney Lowe, although it's not certain yet if either is a coach-in-waiting to take the job next. 

"It's not known if one of Flip's former players, Chauncey Billups, or European coach David Blatt will be added to the staff and possibly could become that future coach-in-waiting. 

"Billups is currently under a player's contract with Detroit and Blatt still is busy coaching his Israeli team. 

"It's also quite possible Saunders' son Ryan -- currently under contract as a Washington assistant -- will eventually join the staff. 

"'I like Flip, he's the best coach the Timberwolves have ever had,' Wolves forward Corey Brewer said about today's news. 'It's all about winning.'

"Saunders has a 638-526 regular-season record in 15-plus years of NBA head coaching, the first 10 seasons of those as the Wolves head coach. 

"He has led teams to the conference finals four times -- once with the Wolves, three times with (the) Detroit (Pistons) -- in those 15-plus seasons. 

"Taylor's agreement with Saunders to coach is open-ended in terms of year. It's possible he could go back in a year or two and see if he can convince either Michigan State's Tom Izzo or Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg to take the job if the timing is then better for either man. 

"According to a source, there was a time during the search that Saunders thought he had convinced Izzo to be the next coach. 

"Kevin Love's uncertain future likely impacted this decision because it left doubt in some candidates' minds."

The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Andy Greder also confirms Saunders will take over as Timberwolves head coach. 

"The only coach with a winning record in Timberwolves history will return to the bench. 

"Flip Saunders will coach the Wolves in the 2014-15 season, he told the Pioneer Press in a text message Thursday. 

"Saunders, the franchise's president of basketball operations, conducted a search that lasted more than six weeks for a replacement to Rick Adelman in the end chose himself."

Minnesota made an announcement on its official website regarding a press conference on June 6 to introduce the team's next coach, but did not specifically identify Saunders. 

"The Minnesota Timberwolves will host a press conference on Friday to introduce the team's new head coach. The press conference will take place at the Target Center and will start at 1 p.m. It will be streamed live on Timberwolves.com." 

Saunders himself confirmed to ESPN's Marc Stein he is taking over the position last held by Rick Adelman, who retired in April. In addition, the ESPN update says Saunders becoming Timberwolves head coach will have no bearing on All-Star forward Kevin Love's desire to opt out of his contract and play for a contender in 2014-15. 

"Sources reiterated to ESPN.com on Thursday that Saunders' move back to the bench will have no impact on Love's determination to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent in 2015

"Saunders and Love have built a good relationship since Saunders replaced David Kahn as Minnesota's lead decision-maker, but sources say Love is determined to play for a contender after missing the playoffs in each of his first six NBA seasons. His concern, sources say, isn't who's coaching but the state of the roster. 

"ESPN.com reported earlier this month that (the) Golden State (warriors ) and (the) Chicago (Bulls) are two potential trade destinations that particularly intrigue Love in his quest to land with a team that can make some noise. The (Houston) Rockets, (Boston) Celtics, (New York) Knicks, (Los Angeles) Lakers and (Phoenix) Suns are among the other teams, sources say, that tried to engage the Wolves in exploratory trade talks."

The Timberwolves were eyeing Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger, a Minnesota native, to replace Adelman. Minnesota interviewed Joerger two weekends ago but Grizzlies owner Robert Pera tendered a better offer which made his head coach stay, per ESPN. 

Saunders then met with team owner Glen Taylor earlier this week to re-assess their coaching search. They agreed Saunders was the best candidate for the job even though Taylor had previous apprehensions on Saunders performing a dual role of coach and president of basketball operations, Zgoda notes. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune report quoted Taylor as saying,"You've always got to keep your options open and that's what we did here. For the long run, this is the next step we have to take." 

The 59-year-old Saunders has called the shots for the Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards in his 16-year NBA head coaching career. He has amassed a 638-526 (.548) win-loss record through June 6, per Basketball-Reference.com.  


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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