Friday, May 03, 2013

Flip Returns

You might have heard of the Timberwolves, who apparently have played basketball against Jason Collins in recent years. They are in the news because they've decided to bring back Flip Saunders:

The Timberwolves fired President of Basketball Operations David Kahn on Thursday and will replace him with former coach Flip Saunders, who added an additional title: part owner.

Saunders told ESPN — for whom he is doing NBA studio commentary this season — that he has signed a multiyear contract to manage the Wolves that includes minority ownership in a team that owner Glen Taylor put on the market last summer, but recently said he now has no intention of selling.

Saunders, who coached the team from 1995 to 2005 before he was fired, will be reintroduced at a Friday morning news conference at Target Center.
Kahn was an interesting case -- a former sportswriter who had managed to find his way into the management of a team. Kahn was fond of point guards and drafted a boatload of them. His success rate was a little dicey, though. While Ricky Rubio has turned out to be a good player, Jonny Flynn is now seen as often as Jonny Quest.

When Saunders was the coach of the Wolves, he generally had the benefit of Kevin Garnett's services, which was a double-edged sword. With Garnett on the team, they were never terrible, but they never were able to find enough complementary players to make it past the other powerhouse teams in the NBA's Western Conference. They got close one year, when the team brought in the mercurial Sam Cassel and Latrell Sprewell, who were talented but less than reliable. Saunders did the best he could under some goofy circumstances, but it's less than clear that he's suited to be a front office executive.

As the team now stands, they have two very good players in their employ in Rubio and Kevin Love. They also have some serviceable players around, like Luke Ridnour and Derrick Williams. But they've never really had a legitimate title contender since the team took the floor in 1989. The biggest challenge that Saunders has is making the team something more than an afterthought in a market where there's a lot of competition for the entertainment dollar.


First Ringer said...

I liked the way Jim Souhan hedged the Wolves' move on the radio yesterday (and I'm paraphrasing, of course):

"There are NBA decisions and Timberwovles decisions. And by Timberwolves' standards, this was a good call."

I was not interested in seeing Saunders take over the Gophers. I can tolerate (nay, even slightly approve of) him taking the reigns at Target Center.

Bike Bubba said...

Your comment on the manager "liking guards" suggests that someone in the organization needs an idea of the whole concept of a basketball team. I can only imagine what would not have happened if one of my favorite teams had increased their depth at guard in 1987 instead of drafting Grant and Pippen.

Mr. D said...

I can only imagine what would not have happened if one of my favorite teams had increased their depth at guard in 1987 instead of drafting Grant and Pippen.

I remember those pre-Grant and Pippen Bulls teams. They'd get the crap beat of them. Grant in particular changed that.