While the Timberwolves would like to return to the playoffs this season, the focus will be on building long-term success, head coach Ryan Saunders tells Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Last year’s 36-46 disappointment began with a chaotic training camp that opened amid a trade demand from Jimmy Butler and a public war with ownership and coach Tom Thibodeau. Saunders, who took over the team at midseason, says the road toward rebuilding will start with a much calmer camp.
“I think you need to look at it in different scopes and see where you are at certain points of the season,” he said. “We’re not looking to just get into the playoffs for one year. That’s not our goal. And we understand that. So with that, you want to make sure you’re building for sustainable success. You want to make sure you’re doing the right things each day.”
There’s more from Minnesota:
- This will be a pivotal season for Jeff Teague after he opted in for another year at $19MM, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Teague was a favorite of Thibodeau, who saw the point guard as a stabilizing presence on a team of veterans. However, he’s coming off the worst season of his 10-year career and doesn’t seem to be in the plans for the new management team, which tried to sign D’Angelo Russell in free agency and wanted to land Darius Garland in the draft. Teague hopes to be healthier after missing 40 games last season with a variety of injuries and undergoing ankle surgery in April.
- The Wolves will have limited options to find a point guard on the free agent market next summer, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Kyle Lowry will be the top name on the list, but he’ll be 34 and won’t fit in with the team’s youth movement. Dejounte Murray could be a restricted free agent if he doesn’t reach an extension with the Spurs, but San Antonio is likely to match any offer sheet. Fred VanVleet could be available, but the Wolves would face a competitive market for him. Krawczynski adds that Minnesota may take another shot at Russell, trying to swing a deal with the Warriors in February if Klay Thompson is close to returning to action.
- In a separate story, Krawczynski examines the questions surrounding every player on the Wolves’ roster heading into camp, including the importance of Karl-Anthony Towns becoming the team leader, whether Andrew Wiggins can fix his game and what newcomers Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell will bring.