Flip Saunders as T'Wolves head coach means what for Wizards?

Flip Saunders as T'Wolves head coach means what for Wizards?
June 5, 2014, 11:15 am
Share This Post

Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders reacts during the first half against the Houston Rockets at the Verizon Center.

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

In news that is both surprising and yet not at all, Flip Saunders is the new head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves according to multiple reports.

Saunders, who spent parts of three seasons as coach with the Wizards, is Minnesota's team president. In other words, the man in charge of finding the next head coach. Perhaps this was the desired plan all along after the franchise that fired him as coach in 2005 brought Saunders, the father of Wizards assistant Ryan Saunders, back to run the basketball operations in May 2013. 

Recently the elder Saunders courted and nearly landed Memphis' Dave Joerger only for Joerger to stick with Grizzlies. Following that dead end, the recharted course apparently ended with a look in the mirror - and a conversation with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.

Saunders sports a 638-526 record in 16 seasons including an unsightly 51-130 with Washington. That led to the promotion of assistant Randy Wittman. Now Saunders is back as head coach two days after the Wizards officially brought Wittman back in that same role.

[RELATED Randy Wittman's 22-year coaching journey]

Perhaps the intriguing question is whether one of Wittman's assistants will now head to Minnesota. Looking to carve out his own niche, Ryan Saunders stayed with the Wizards for a fifth season despite his father rejoining Minnesota last year. Sam Cassell and Don Zierden also joined Saunders in Washington. 

Milt Newton left Washington's front office to become the Timberwolves general manager. Despite the new role, Saunders will continue to have final say in personnel decisions, according to the Associated Press.

His NBA head coaching career started with the Timberwolves in 1995 and directed them to eight playoff appearances in 10 seasons. From there, three successful though perhaps ultimately frustrating campaigns with the Detroit Pistons, all ending in the Eastern Conference finals. The frustrations went to an entire other level in Washington. Instead of coaching a veteran team thinking playoffs, Saunders wound up dealing with constant distractions and a rebuilding squad.

Depending on what he chooses to do with Kevin Love, the distractions could remain or a new rebuild might be on the horizon.