Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has said he’ll make a decision interim head coach Sam Mitchell after the regular season ends Wednesday against New Orleans at Target Center. What Taylor has not done is offer an indication of how long that decision will take.
Mitchell was elevated to the position after Flip Saunders succumbed to cancer shortly before the season began.
While they won’t be the ones making the decision, the players who talked with the media after Tuesday’s practice were unanimous in praise of Mitchell and the coaching staff and said they hoped he would return.
And while that’s not exactly surprising, in at least two cases the responses seemed immediate and heartfelt.
“Definitely,” said Andrew Wiggins when asked if he’d like Mitchell back as head coach next season. He then talked about how much Mitchell and the staff have helped him. “It’s been huge,’’ he said. “They put me in positions to succeed. They’ve never steered me wrong.’’
Wiggins and Mitchell worked together a lot during Wiggins'’s rookie season, when Mitchell was Flip Saunders’ top assistant.
“I talked with him the most out of all the assistants,” Wiggins said. “And this year he was the head coach, so I already had that relationship with him. So it’s good.’’
Shabazz Muhammad had a similar response. “I think he’s developing us great,’’ he said. “I think Sam is a players’ coach. … He’s really been a teacher to us. We’re a young team. He’s really hands-on, which is good. I love coach and I hope he’s back next year.’’
This is what Karl-Anthony Towns had to say: “I’ll tell you one thing. We’ve done a great job this year, especially the coaching staff. With the tragedy happening, I think they did a great job for us this year.’’
The only player not to weigh in was Gorgui Dieng. When asked, he said he would let Taylor and general manager Milt Newton make that call. "I'm just a player,'' he said. "I'm going to stay in my lane.''
Mitchell himself? As he has done a few times in recent days, he spoke with pride about a team that has a chance to win its 29th game Wednesday after winning just 16 last season. He talked about the improvement of the players.
“I just talked to them about that,” Mitchell said. “they have all gotten better. And what started as a difficult season, with all the things that happened, these guys should be proud of themselves. If guys stay healthy, stay humble and continue to work, I think we can have something pretty special here in Minnesota. I thanked ‘em for allowing me to coach ‘em this year. And they responded in a positive way.’’
When asked about his own immediate future with the team, Mitchell said this: “I’m not worried about me,’’ he said. “All I can do is do the best job I can. I’m comfortable with that, whatever happens