HoopsHype Flip Saunders rumors

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March 31, 2015 Updates

You really wouldn’t expect anything else, but Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said there is no question that Andrew Wiggins is the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. “Anyone that throws anything else out, they’re dreaming,” Saunders said. “He is the most dominant rookie. He’s playing in a situation where because we’ve been so undermanned, he is the guy. Like (Monday), when we got the ball, he had three people over there trying to guard him. This has helped him and it will help him even more when we get veteran guys back and surround him with our other guys, too.” St. Paul Pioneer Press

"That's totally irresponsible, we're not tanking games," Saunders said to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and other reporters gathered. "If that's so, then [Utah] got beat by a team who was tanking. … We're playing to win. Our guys are out there: We won two games ago at New York, we lost in the fourth quarter against Charlotte last night. We're not tanking games. It is irresponsible for them to go on TV saying that. If you work at ESPN, you get fired for saying stuff like that." Bolerjack, however, apparently disagreed that the conversation went too far. And during Saunders' pregame interview Monday night, the Jazz play-by-play man asked the coach if his feelings had changed. "Still feel like the announcers need to be fired, including myself?" Bolerjack asked. "I didn't say you," Saunders replied. "I just said that at ESPN, you do things like that. … You know, we have these [interviews] beforehand, people come and ask us, you know, who we have, who's playing, who's not. So that's why we have this here." Salt Lake Tribune

March 24, 2015 Updates

Monday’s game wasn’t carried by FSN back in the Twin Cities, so interested fans needed to catch the Jazz broadcast on the NBA’s League Pass. Jazz announcers said, to paraphrase, that teams purposely losing games to improve draft lottery odds by dressing only seven available players is bad for the league, bad for fans who pay good money to see Kevin Garnett and the league needs to do something about it. Utah fans didn’t see Garnett, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Gary Neal or four other injured Wolves players Monday. They did see newly signed D League guard Sean Kilpatrick make three three-pointers in a fourth-quarter comeback, and they also saw Zach LaVine ignore a mental mistake with the game on the line and make two clutch threes in the final 21 seconds of regulation to force overtime anyway. “That’s totally irresponsible, we’re not tanking games,” Saunders said. “If that’s so, then [Utah] got beat by a team who was tanking. … We’re playing to win. Our guys are out there: We won two games ago at New York, we lost in the fourth quarter against Charlotte last night. We’re not tanking games. It is irresponsible for them to go on TV saying that. If you work at ESPN, you get fired for saying stuff like that.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune

March 19, 2015 Updates

The Timberwolves signed guard Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract, and he arrived in time to give them the league-mandated eight players in uniform for their game against the New York Knicks. Listing eight players on their injured list, the Wolves didn't just need a player. They needed one who wouldn't take long to get here. "We had to fulfill our rules, so we had to go find somebody that was within a train ride away," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. Kilpatrick actually drove, arriving in the Wolves' locker room at Madison Square Garden about 45 minutes before the start. He quickly introduced himself to guard Ricky Rubio, who joined the injured ranks Thursday with a sore right ankle. ESPN.com

Kilpatrick, the former University of Cincinnati star whose family is from New York, was close enough. "We had him in before so we worked him out, so we knew about him and we've been following him, but there's no question that geography helped," Saunders said. "We had to have a guy here ready to play at 7:30." Kilpatrick has averaged 13.6 points in 42 games this season with Delaware and Santa Cruz. "We'll be undermanned," Saunders said before the game, "but guys that have complained in the past about playing time won't have to worry about it tonight." ESPN.com

March 17, 2015 Updates
March 16, 2015 Updates
March 5, 2015 Updates

The NBA’s review also included three other incorrect non-calls that didn’t impact the game as much as the no-call on Hawes did. “The instant replays are a fine line,” Saunders said. “No question, instant replays try to get it right, which is good, but they definitely hurt the flow of the game in a lot of ways. … They are trying to be transparent with fans so they know what’s going on. Usually in those situations, we’ll talk to the league that night or the next morning and know what happened on those calls.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune

March 3, 2015 Updates
February 26, 2015 Updates

"We had no idea we were going to take him in the first round," McHale, vice president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, says. "I didn't even want to go see him. I thought it was a waste of time. Then we went, and Flip Saunders [then Minnesota's general manager] and I were in the car afterward, and we just looked at each other. I said, 'Wow, we're going to pick a high school kid in the first round.' It was that obvious. "This was our first draft. Flip and I were both new. Our owner was also new. How do you tell him that the first thing he's going to do is sign this high school kid? I think we figured if it went bad, we'd just say, 'Hey, it was our first draft. We didn't know what we were doing.'" Sports Illustrated

February 24, 2015 Updates

Minnesota was an early adopter of SportVU player tracking, installing cameras in the Target Center for the 2011-12 season in a project spearheaded by manager of basketball analytics Matt Bollero. But that effort predated Saunders' return to the Timberwolves organization. In particular, according to a source, Saunders eschews analytics in terms of game planning, and he favors inefficient shot distribution. Only the Washington Wizards -- Saunders' former team -- have a higher ratio of midrange attempts to 3-pointers. That's not a new trend. In Saunders' 17 seasons as an NBA head coach, only the 2005-06 Detroit Pistons attempted 3s at a rate higher than league average. ESPN.com

February 23, 2015 Updates

Garnett is expected to immediately become Cultural Minister of the Wolves. He's unofficially in charge of changing the attitude, the habits, the expectations of the young team. The locker room will become something like Father Flanagan's Boys Town -- home for wayward boys -- with Garnett starring in the title role. "He changed their culture," Saunders said of Garnett's time with the Boston Celtics. "Doc (Rivers) told me that. They had veteran players and everything else, but when he went in the locker room, the music was cut off and everything." St. Paul Pioneer Press

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