The new top executive of the Timberwolves also will select the next head coach.

And if he doesn't want Kevin McHale to coach the team next year, the new hire will have the choice of selecting someone else.

These surprising words came out of Wolves owner Glen Taylor's mouth after repeating several times that if McHale wants to coach the team next year, the job is his.

"... If I'm going to have a person in charge of basketball operations, I want that person to be comfortable with who is going to coach here," Taylor said.

What if this guy wanted McHale in the front office?

"I think the interest Kevin has is to be the coach here," Taylor said.

So McHale won't be a member of the organization if he isn't the coach.

"I think it would be hard for Kevin, once he's been the head guy here, not to be the head guy of basketball operations," Taylor said. "In reality, if you've been there, and hire somebody else, I don't think Kevin would want to work for somebody else."

Taylor decided to change the way the Wolves do things, hiring a top decision-making executive after operating by committee for so long.

"I think that, with Kevin stepping down into the position of coach, that we have an opportunity to look both internally and externally to come up with a person to run the basketball operations," Taylor said. "This is the first time we've had this opportunity since we bought the club. I want to do a thorough job and make sure we find a really good candidate.

"We have a couple of guys internally that have worked for us with a number of years. Basically, we've had a number of candidates, but we probably have four outside candidates, so we'll have six people that will go through the whole process. Then we'll choose one of those six."

Inside candidates

Taylor said that General Manager Jim Stack and Assistant General Manager Fred Hoiberg are the inside candidates for the GM job.

"We know both Fred and Jim very well," said Taylor. "They are people we can measure other people against. I have always found out just because you like guys you work with that you should also go the outside and look at people with new ideas and other experiences. I think it's best for our club to do that."

Taylor won't go as far as to say it would be better to bring in a new guy to clean house.

"I wouldn't put it at that," Taylor said. "You just want to look at guys from the outside because they have had different type of experiences. Those type of experiences might be helpful to your club. You want to bring new ideas if it will be helpful to your club. All the people we have interviewed have been in the league for quite awhile."

Taylor said people have sought the job.

"I've been really happy with the people that have interviewed," Taylor said. "They have said they really want this job, and it's a great opportunity with a young team to move forward. We have positioned ourselves with the draft choices and have the ability in the future to get free agents and make trades. This club has some opportunities many other clubs don't have."

Taylor would like the new boss to run the draft.

"I would like to have this decision made two weeks after the season," Taylor said. "Maybe, three weeks from now so we're all set for the [June 25] draft. But in the meantime, our staff here is doing all the work for the draft. We'll be prepared for the draft."

I really believe McHale deserves a chance to coach the team if he wants the job. He has done a good job and the players like and respect him.

But if McHale gets a bad deal, and it will be if he isn't given the opportunity, then I would bring in Flip Saunders before he signs with Washington.

The chance to sell season tickets with Saunders at the helm would improve, and no doubt he can coach.

Not signed yet

When contacted about his interest in becoming coach of the Wizards, Saunders refused to confirm or deny his interest in the job.

This much is known from a source in Washington: Nothing has been signed at this point, but Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld has always been a big fan of Saunders, and it's likely he will be the coach if he thinks he can win in what is a bad situation now. The Washington Post reported Saunders will sign a four-year contract calling for $18 million.

Jottings

Bryant Allen, who has signed to play football and also plans to play basketball for the Gophers, was named the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper's prep basketball player of the year after leading his Maplewood-Richmond Heights team to the Missouri Class 3 state basketball title. ... Konrad Zagzebski, from D.C. Everest High School in Schofield, Wis., one of the top junior linebackers in Wisconsin, committed to the Gophers a while back but has changed his mind and says now he will go to Wisconsin.

Tonight will be First Annual Faculty and Staff Practice/Scrimmage whereby every Gophers football player can invite his favorite professor to watch the practice and then have dinner together. The professor also can bring his or her better half and their children as coach Tim Brewster continues to try to broaden interest in football on the campus.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Adam Lind, who was hitting .375 with three home runs and 12 RBI going into Wednesday's game against the Twins, had verbally committed to the Gophers baseball program. But Lind, who played high school baseball at Highland (Ind.), changed his mind and attended South Alabama, where he was a freshman All-America in 2003. Lind made it to the majors in 2006 at the age of 23.

Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith and former player Jim Petersen will represent the team for a second year at the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge at Reynolds Plantation golf course on Lake Oconee outside of Atlanta. They will compete for a share of the $350,000 scholarship purse won a year ago by South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier and former South Carolina great wide receiver Sterling Sharpe.

The University/Les Bolstad Gopher golf course will be the host for some of the best high school players from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota in the Tri State Invitational this weekend. Gophers recruit Jon Trasamar, from Blue Earth Area, is the favorite to win the individual title. Eden Prairie and Chaska are favored to battle for the team title.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com