Ryan Saunders Rumors
How much time did you spend with Saunders? Towns: “A lot. I was talking to him a lot. We sat down a lot, but we didn’t sit down as much as I wished I could have. I spent a lot of time with his son (Ryan Saunders, a Timberwolves assistant coach). I just did everything that I can to make sure that I played as hard for him [Flip]. I was so emotional at the end of the game, because I just remember promising him that I wanted to bring as many wins to this franchise as I can and as much as this franchise can hold. I’m just happy I started my promise out right tonight.”
When he reached junior-high school and became a Wolves ball boy, Saunders spent countless hours shagging missed shots for a young star who on Thursday returned to the franchise that drafted him 20 years ago. Garnett still is its all-time leader in games played, minutes played, rebounds, steals, blocked shots and points, and all by a large margin. “Outside of my mother and father, I learned more from him on how to carry yourself, how to be a professional and how to be disciplined in life,” Saunders said.
And in the process, Saunders believes all that time spent together made him a better person. “I was a quiet kid,” said Saunders, who 20 years later seems still not all that different. “I just sat and listened to him a lot. I learned a ton from him. He always took care of me.” Saunders remembers Garnett always outfitting him with sneakers and apparel from whatever shoe deal Garnett’s agent had negotiated at the time. Those gestures saved a father who now owns part of the team money when it came to clothing his own kid. “One thing about KG is he takes care of all his people,” Flip Saunders said. “That’s one thing people don’t understand. He never liked to do anything in public. He wanted to do things on his own, things no one knew about. He took care of the people who were close to him very much.”
On the surface, the Washington Wizards’ decision to replace Ryan Saunders with David Adkins as player development assistant in July was unusual. Very rarely have coaches executed the leap from women’s college basketball to the NBA like Adkins did after five seasons on Brenda Frese’s staff at Maryland. The remarkable career progression, however, became an afterthought upon a perusal of Adkins’s coaching résumé: He was an assistant coach at Montrose Christian from 1999 to 2006, when Kevin Durant came through the Rockville private school. Durant, the reigning NBA most valuable player, is scheduled to be a free agent in 2016 when his contract with Oklahoma City expires and hasn’t rejected the possibility of returning to play for his hometown team.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal admitted that he had “no idea” who Adkins was before the two met at the Las Vegas summer league in July, but Beal and swingman Martell Webster both credited Adkins for challenging yet enjoyable rehabilitation sessions that closely resembled game-like situations as they recovered from injuries to start the season. “He definitely pushes you to the max, man,” Beal said. “He wants the best for you, and he’s going to push you until your tongue is hanging dry. He’ll do whatever it takes to get you better.”