A look at possible coaching candidates when Rick Adelman doesn’t return. So much will depend on Kevin Love’s uncertain future.
Fred Hoiberg: The former Wolves player and front-office executive is a natural fit because of his history with Flip Saunders and the franchise. But would he leave Iowa State, his hometown of Ames and his beloved status as “The Mayor” just when he’s got it so good, especially after getting a $600,000 raise Friday? That depends on what the Wolves pay, how much he dislikes the cesspool that is college recruiting and his willingness to uproot his children. Expect the Wolves to try.
Flip Saunders: The Wolves president would almost certainly be the next coach if it were up to him, but owner Glen Taylor says he wants Saunders to focus on one job because a coach lives in the present and a good manager must think for the future. He still could change Taylor’s mind, particularly if he convinces Taylor that his coaching system and style will help keep Kevin Love in Minnesota.
George Karl: The winner of 1,131 games still wants to work, and he is still Coach of the Year. He also loves Love, Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer, but health is an issue and so is Love’s future.
Tom Izzo: Saunders’ buddy from Michigan State consulted with him on last summer’s draft, but he, too, has it really good in college.
Jeff Van Gundy: Another pal of Saunders, they talk daily and scouted this spring’s NCAA tournament together. Jeff’s brother Stan is available, too.
Sam Mitchell: The former Wolves player was considered at Taylor’s behest when David Kahn hired Adelman in 2011. There’s also a relationship with Saunders, for whom he played nearly 20 years ago.
With Kevin Love signed to a max salary, Nikola Pekovic signed to a rich deal as well and Ricky Rubio contract negotiations starting this summer, the Wolves are well over the salary cap and approaching the luxury-tax threshold.
That means they will be limited in making additions this summer and will have to get creative trying to add a rotation player or two. They don’t have the money to sign a big-name free agent. Unless they can swing a meaningful trade or trades, they will be limited to their midlevel exception.
Will they be back?
Five players you might be seeing for the last times as Wolves: Dante Cunningham, J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Chase Budinger, Robbie Hummel.
And just maybe, Nikola Pekovic. It’s a longer shot but … rookie Gorgui Dieng’s late-season emergence could give the Wolves a trade chip to upgrade at small forward if someone is willing to take Pekovic’s big contract and injury history. At the least, Dieng’s presence will let the Wolves limit Pekovic’s playing time in an attempt to keep him healthier.