There was a time when Flip Saunders thought he had convinced friend Tom Izzo to take the Wolves coaching job, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Saunders also asked Jeff Van Gundy, with whom he is also close, about his interest in the job, Zgoda adds. The Wolves president of basketball operations ultimately picked himself to fill the team’s coaching vacancy, and he joins Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy and Gregg Popovich among NBA coaches with front office decision-making power. Here’s more on the Wolves:
- Love wouldn’t have been convinced to stay with the Wolves even if they had hired Phil Jackson as coach, a source tells USA Today’s Sam Amick.
- The power forward became disconnected from the team toward the end of the season, and the club grew to accept he didn’t want to stay, as Steve Aschburner of NBA.com details. Saunders’ decision to coach wasn’t as much about convincing Love to remain as it was about taking a hands-on approach with whomever the club can get in return for him, according to Aschburner, echoing a sentiment that Zgoda expressed earlier via Twitter.
- Saunders had concerns that he’d clash with a veteran coach if he hired one, and Izzo, Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan were all wary of Love’s uncertain future when they turned down the job, Aschburner also hears.
- It’s far more likely that Saunders will target experienced players in a trade for Love than he is to go after draft picks, as Amick surmises in his piece.
- The Wolves made Dave Joerger an offer to coach the team before he decided to remain with the Grizzlies, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com says in a video report. Joerger interviewed with Saunders and Taylor and appeared quite close to becoming the team’s coach, but it wasn’t entirely clear whether the team had indeed offered the job to him.
- Chauncey Billups told James Herbert of CBSSports.com earlier this season that he didn’t want to coach, lending credence to earlier reports suggesting the same and casting doubt on the idea that he’ll become an assistant coach for the Wolves next season (Twitter link).
- David Blatt looks like Saunders’ top choice if he decides to hire an assistant he can groom to take over the coaching duties in a year or two, according to Darren Wolfson and Nate Sandell of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. Blatt is the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.
- Minnesota will likely offer Kevin Garnett a front office role and a chance to buy a minority stake in the team once he retires, writes Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com. We rounded up more from her story centering on Kevin Love‘s future late last night.
- Love is a calculating type, and he wants to get to the Knicks or the Lakers as quickly as possible, The Oregonian’s John Canzano believes, opining that the Knicks would be an especially appealing suitor for the power forward in free agency next summer.