It's only been about three and a half months since Flip Saunders took over for David Kahn as the Timberwolves' head of basketball operations, but it's been a very productive few months for Saunders. Since assuming control of the roster, he has added Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, and Ronny Turiaf, as well as locking up Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger to long-term deals.
Saunders recently spoke to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune about Minnesota's offseason and about the next steps for the team. Zgoda's entire interview with Saunders is worth a read, but here are a few of the more notable quotes from the Wolves president and minority owner:
On whether there's anything he knows now about his job that he didn't when he was hired:
"I don’t think so. People talk about the importance of the agents and how they can dictate things; I believe my year with ESPN helped me tremendously in dealing with media and even agents. You understand these people have an agenda and you have to respect what their agenda is. It might not be the same as yours, and you might not like what they’re doing, but it’s not out of spite to you. It’s because they have a job to do. You have to respect that. I understand that more now, and I don’t take it maybe as seriously, to be honest, as I would have in the past."
On what's still on the to-do list now that Pekovic has been re-signed:
"Things I feel can help all those players become better: Get our medical staff and our philosophy together and decide long term how we’ll train these guys so they can be better prepared for the season. We’re going to look at another front-office person. We need to get everything together from a scouting — our analytics — standpoint. There are still a lot of things to do."
On whether the roster needs any more tweaking:
"I don’t think we have any needs. Right now, talking to Rick [Adelman], we feel comfortable with the roster we have. Not only is it balanced, but we feel we have talent at every position. I’ve talked a lot about this team and there are pretty good players out there we don’t even talk about right now: Derrick Williams, J.J. Barea, Dante Cunningham. When you put all those guys together with who we’ve added, you’ve got to feel comfortable."
On whether it's harder to make a $60MM contract offer when you own a share of the team:
"No. Listen, I knew one thing coming into this whether you’re a coach, president or owner: Good players are going to get paid. More than likely, the teams that have the highest payrolls are the teams that happen to win. You’ve got to choose the right guys. You want to be sure they have a certain skill. Pek can score on the block, he’s got great strength and he can rebound. I don’t think those things are going to change."
On whether Muhammad or Dieng will spend any time in the D-League:
"I’m a proponent of minor leagues…. It’s not a punishment league. Guys can get better and gain confidence. We’re going to try to utilize it. I don’t think we’ve used it very much here in the past. If we send somebody down, we’ll send somebody from our staff with them so they don’t feel we’ve forgotten about them. That’s the biggest thing: You don’t want anyone that goes there to feel they’ve been forgotten. Now saying that, we might not have anyone go down there this year, but we are very open about it and we’re going to have a very good relationship with our Iowa team. I’ve talked with [owner] Glen [Taylor]. We’re going to entertain the opportunity a year or two down the road here of purchasing a hybrid NBDL team."