Rand: One Wolves coach stands above the nine others

  • Updated: April 22, 2014 - 6:56 AM
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Flip Saunders is the only coach to guide the Timberwolves to the playoffs. He now is in charge of basketball operations. The team needs a coach. … Hmmmmm.

Photo: File photo by Tom Wallace • tom.wallace@startribune.com,

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The Wolves have had 10 coaches in their franchise history. Rick Adelman confirmed Monday he is not returning; I have a suspicion their next coach might be a rehire, but that’s a subject for another time. Right now, let’s focus on ranking those coaches from best to worst based on what they accomplished during their time here:

1. Flip Saunders: The only coach to ever win a playoff series. The only coach to ever make it to the playoffs. The only coach to ever preside over a winning season. The only coach with a winning record during his tenure. The only coach with at least 100 victories here, and he had more than 400. Quite possibly the next coach of the Wolves as well.

 

2. Dwane Casey: One of three former Wolves coaches who is currently a head coach in the NBA playoffs (Toronto), Casey got a raw deal here. His first season, the Wolves were 33-49. His next season, they were 20-20 when he was fired. The roster was Kevin Garnett and a bunch of spare parts. Casey could coach.

 

3. Rick Adelman: The Wolves didn’t move the needle as far as they wanted to under Adelman, but at the end of the day there is this truth: The team went 17-65 the final season before he was hired. Three years later, in his final season, the Wolves won 40 games. He had better talent with which to work than many predecessors, but he also brought this franchise back toward respectability.

 

4. Bill Musselman: Winning 29 games with the 1990-91 Wolves was nothing short of a miracle. Musselman could squeeze out victories where none logically should have existed.

 

5. Kevin McHale: The second of three former Wolves coaches currently in the playoffs (Houston), McHale showed promise in two takeover stints here, but he loses points in the rankings for never presiding over a season from start to finish.

 

6. Bill Blair: The bottom five could go in a lot of different orders. Blair gets the benefit of laying some groundwork before Saunders took over.

 

7. Randy Wittman: The third former Wolves coach currently in the playoffs (Washington), Wittman did not have the magic touch here. We’ll leave it at that.

 

8. Sidney Lowe: Coached part of the 1992-93 season and all of 1993-94. Those Wolves teams, man. They just didn’t have a lot of talent.

 

9. Jimmy Rodgers: Not much he could do with the rosters he was handed, but 21-90 is not a favorable record.

 

10. Kurt Rambis: Went 32-132 in two full seasons with the Wolves. Kevin Love played in 133 of those games.

MICHAEL RAND

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