11:57pm: Following up on Wojnarowski’s report, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets that the Timberwolves will seek out a permanent president of basketball operations, with the search beginning in earnest within the next few days. No final decisions have been made on Layden and Saunders, according to Krawczynski, who says the next president of basketball operations will help make that call.
Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that Krawczynski is “spot on.”
In his full story at ESPN.com, Wojnarowski writes that the Wolves had been surveying the marketplace for potential executives but never made contact. Woj also reports that Saunders will likely receive a three-year contract with a team option on the final season.
11:19pm: After the Timberwolves dismissed head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau earlier this season, Ryan Saunders assumed coaching duties, while GM Scott Layden became the club’s head of basketball operations. Now, Saunders and Layden are poised to keep those jobs going forward.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Timberwolves are finalizing plans to retain Layden and Saunders.
While Saunders has a modest 17-24 record since taking over as the Wolves’ head coach, the team has liked the job that Flip Saunders‘ son has done managing minutes and developing the organization’s young players.
Karl-Anthony Towns, in particular, has hit his stride since the coaching change, averaging 26.8 PPG, 12.4 RPG, and 3.7 APG on .541/.422/.838 in his 37 games under Saunders. Of course, those numbers can be partially attributed to Jimmy Butler‘s departure.
A March report had suggested that Saunders would likely be retained, but the decision to bring back Layden is a little more surprising. Layden had worked alongside Thibodeau in Minnesota’s front office for the last few years, and there was a sense that the Wolves might explore the market for a new head of basketball operations — Chauncey Billups and Calvin Booth were among the potential candidates linked to the club.