Reusse: Flip's the right guy; don't put him in wrong spot

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 23, 2014 - 7:24 AM
hide

Flip Saunders has done good work as Timberwolves president of basketball operations. He shouldn't take on the addition burden of being the new head coach.

The skyway still makes its turn through the Minneapolis disaster known as Block E. Adjacent to the walking area, all that can be seen are walls of Sheetrock. There is the pounding of sledgehammers and other instruments of destruction behind those walls.

This ridiculous maze of retail and stairwells has been an embarrassment to downtown since it opened in 2001. Finally, Block E is being transformed into something useful, at the same time an NBA organization is being brought into the 21st century.

The Timberwolves and Mayo Clinic are involved in knocking down walls and beams, making space for a practice facility, offices and a Mayo orthopedic center. Whether the construction includes access changes to street level that would replace Dwight Smith’s favorite stairwell hasn’t been clarified.

The Timberwolves have been a decade behind a large share of the NBA when it comes to facilities for its players. The fact the athletes are being moved from a couple of courts in the lower level of the Arena Health Club to an actual practice installation is a sign that Glen Taylor has decided to modernize the operation.

Now, the owner should do the same when it comes to choosing the 11th individual to coach this 25-year-old franchise.

The resignation of the 10th coach, Rick Adelman, became official on Monday. The 67-year-old Adelman was sitting next to Flip Saunders, the 59-year-old president of basketball operations, at the morning news conference.

What you keep hearing from Timberwolves folks is that Saunders would like to give it another shot as coach. Taylor’s public stance when he hired Saunders a year ago was that it was not feasible for one person to run the basketball operation and serve as coach.

That doesn’t mean Saunders will easily give up on the idea. He has Milt Newton in place with the title of general manager. Saunders can offer Taylor the theory that Newton can run the daily operation while he’s off running practices and games.

Saunders was asked about the possibility of doing both jobs after Monday’s news conference and said: “I’m not going to answer that. [As] Rick said, ‘You never know.’ Ideally, we’re going to do a search.”

Recently, Taylor was asked in an interview what he would do if Flip came to him and said, “I’ve done a search and I’m the best candidate.”

Taylor’s response was, “I’d tell him to look again.”

Let’s hope Taylor means that. Saunders had a long and productive run here as coach from December 1995 to February 2005. Yet his return to the bench would do nothing to inspire the fan base, and it would cut into what he has done best since being rehired by Taylor.

Saunders is part of the Twin Cities. You see him everywhere. There was no evidence of his impact at the ticket window this winter, but there’s still a much better vibe about the Wolves with Saunders as the frontman. It reminds me of the first decade when Lou Nanne was in charge of the North Stars.

I give the credit to Saunders for invigorating Taylor as an NBA owner — for convincing him to step up with the practice facility and to try again to build a winner here. Remember, a few months before Saunders came aboard, Taylor sounded like a beaten-down owner who wanted to sell.

The basketball crowd in this area likes Saunders as a person. The fans are willing to give him a full shot as the guy in charge of the draft, at making the decisions on Kevin Love and other personnel matters.

The hoopheads just don’t want Saunders back as the coach. After a decade of Flip, the short-termers in between and three seasons of Adelman … it seems from here the fans would be looking for a different kind of fire from the sideline.

Who? I don’t know.

Who is our Jeff Hornacek in the Twin Cities? Or to make a more far-fetched comparison, who is our basketball version of Patrick Roy in Denver?

Sam Mitchell. I’d take him. He had a run in Toronto. He’s matured since then, but he will still be amped up on the sideline.

The Wolves fans need a coach to rally around, and he’s not Saunders. Flip’s the basketball boss to rally around.

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
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: Which local team are you currently most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close