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.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.
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.
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.