Flip Saunders Rumors
Although it hasn’t been announced, pending free agent Kevin Garnett definitely will re-sign with the Wolves, and Saunders definitely will return as coach.
He impressed Wolves basketball boss Flip Saunders at both ends of the court with two pre-draft workouts and owner Glen Taylor with his polite manners and thoughtful answers during a visit with his father and agent to Minneapolis and the team’s new practice facility last weekend. That apparently finalized the team’s decision. The Wolves are the only team for which Towns worked out. “You know what, it’s almost like it’s fake, isn’t it?” Calipari asked. “It seems fake and it isn’t, I can tell you. I tell everybody: He’s one of the nicest kids, so intelligent, so smart. He is a real kind, nice soul and what you see is who he is, all the time.”
In the Lakers’ dreams, Minnesota, picking No. 1 in the NBA draft, would take Jahlil Okafor, dropping Karl Towns to them at No. 2, which looked like it could happen but does no longer. Minnesota GM/coach Flip Saunders, who had been leaning toward Okafor, is said to have turned pro-Towns after seeing him last week in Los Angeles. The splash sent ripples throughout the NBA. Says an insider: “There’s no doubt, the T-Wolves are taking Towns.”
Klay Thompson had blown Saunders away during a pre-draft workout in 2011, when Saunders coached the Wizards. The Washington brain trust considered reaching for Thompson with the no. 6 pick before going the safe route with a big man — Jan Vesely, who ranked higher on most draft boards but is now out of the league. “We toyed with it,” Saunders says, “but heaven forbid you go out of the box and pick someone you’re higher on than anyone else.”
Do you hear from coaching agents often? Saunders: “Last year I probably talked to 12 coaches. A lot of people probably weren’t aware. I’m not one to advertise. I’ve done the same thing as far as numerous coaches this year. It might not be for right now, but it could be down the road. I’m constantly in the evaluation process for coaches.”
Are you going to coach this team? Saunders: “Right now I’m coaching the team. It’s a question everybody asks. It’s interesting, when I ended up coaching a year ago, it was the right thing to do at that time for the organization. We had the unknowns with Kevin Love, we would have pigeonholed ourselves if we took a veteran coach and maybe not have the flexibility to go as young as we did. Right now, the most important thing is to develop our young talent. We have done a pretty good job with our staff and organization moving in that direction. Until I feel we can get somebody who can move forward a little bit, we’ll [stay] where we’re at.”
Ok, it could be that there was nothing to publish and a journalist forged something but it could be some kind of interested leak from Minneapolis or any of the parts involved. Ricky Rubio: When a rumor pops up, not always, but normally there is something behind. Personally, what I know is that neither me or my agents have done it. I doubt that the franchise would like to leak this because they always have instilled me a lot of confidence. Talking to Flip Saunders, he would said it to me. I think we have a very good relationship, very good feeling and we have never talked anything about that.
“When I took the job, I said we were coming here to build a championship team, and what we’re going to do is we want home run hitters and not singles and doubles [hitters],” Saunders said. “What I meant by that is you have to have potentially All-Star, All-Pro players. I see a lot of guys in this draft who can be that. “Because of the youth of our team and having two 19-year-olds from last year, we’re not going to mortgage our future to facilitate that development. Right now Wiggins is that development. LaVine is that development. [Shabazz] Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, too, so I would never say never but I don’t see us trading [the No. 1 pick] because all these guys we’re going to have an opportunity to look at, three or four of these guys are going to be All-Star, All-Pro-type players. Those are guys you don’t want to give up on.”