Souhan: Saunders' dealing puts Wolves in position to succeed

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2013 - 11:54 PM

After making move after move this offseason, Flip Saunders has set the Wolves up for success.

Flip Saunders wasted little time in reshaping the Wolves roster after becoming their personnel boss. He made moves to address every team need.

Photo: File photo by Bruce Bisping • bbisping@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

If Flip Saunders had behaved this way when he was 5 years old, someone would have prescribed Ritalin.

The man is on fire. As the Timberwolves’ personnel boss discussed his many moves on Friday, he could barely sit still. And after the news conference, when the room had emptied, he gushed with the kind of optimism that most team executives try to keep hidden beneath a layer of professional caution.

“I’m really excited about what we have,” Saunders said. “I don’t want to put any expectations on us. And the reason I don’t want to put any expectations on us is I don’t want to make those expectations too low.

“I do believe if we stay healthy, the way Rick [Adelman] coaches and with the system we have, that we could be a very scary team.”

He’s right. With the addition of defensive-minded wing Corey Brewer, Saunders and Adelman, the Wolves coach, have built the deepest, most versatile roster in franchise history.

In this case, “franchise history” isn’t too impressive. Look at it another way: This year’s Wolves will have a bench that could have beaten the starting fives of a few recent teams.

If Adelman starts Brewer at small forward for defensive purposes, the starting five will be Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Brewer, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. The next seven players will be J.J. Barea, Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Ronny Turiaf and Alexey Shved.

Last year’s Wolves, with Love out and Rubio recovering from knee surgery, lacked position flexibility, three-point shooting, defense and the ability to run. Saunders has addressed every need.

So how does this team compare to the heavyweights in the Western Conference?

“I think we can compare,” he said. “We’ve got a little bit of everything. You’ve got to look at it more to know for sure, but we might be as flexible as any team in the conference.

“We have the ability to play big, to play small, to move pieces around. Not many teams can put Kevin Love at center, or move Budinger around, or move Shved and Martin around and play them with Rubio. With that lineup, you’ve got four guys who are knockdown three-point shooters on the floor at the same time.

“You can play big, with Pek and Love and Budinger, and you can have a team with an average height of 6-8 on the floor. In order to compete, you worry about your ability to rebound, and that’s not going to be a concern for us. You worry about your defense being exposed because of matchup problems with size, and we’re not going to have to worry about that. And we know we have guys who can get out and run.”

Saunders’ first job in professional basketball was as the coach of the Rapid City Thrillers in South Dakota.

“Yeah, this is fun, but it’s not as much fun as that first job I had with Eric [Musselman],” Saunders said.

“We had 28 guys we moved through the roster, trading left and right.

“What I’ve enjoyed here is working with Rick. We’ve had a lot of conversations. We share a lot of the same philosophies. I really respect him a lot, because we believe in the same way we want to play: team basketball, share the basketball, having players who make other players better on your team. And we also believe that the show is not about us as coaches, it’s about the players, putting them in position and then letting them play.”

Saunders and Adelman have positioned the Wolves to be a model of the modern iteration of the NBA, where the ball goes into the paint as much to set up three-point shooters as to create point-blank shots. Saunders has built a good team, and he knows it.

“Any time you have a chance to build, to take a piece of clay and mold it the way you want to, you have a passion for that,” Saunders said. “You have fun with it.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 4th Qtr 2:00
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 57 3rd Qtr
Sacramento 54
Oklahoma City 40 1st Qtr 1:08
Golden State 27
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 2 1st Prd 4:52
Los Angeles 0
Edmonton 1 2nd Prd
San Jose 0
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 1st OT 2:09
Evansville 75
CS-Dominguez 17 2nd Half
Cal State Fullerton 30
Walla Walla 18 2nd Half
Idaho 49
DePaul 28 2nd Half
Oregon State 48
Nevada 19 2nd Half 18:40
Pacific 37
Portland State 22 2nd Half 15:40
San Francisco 52
CS-Bakersfield 18 2nd Half
Utah State 20
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Santa Clara 76 1st OT 0:02
Oregon 76
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close