NBA

Saunders noncommittal on Wolves reunion

04/26 5:45 PM

ESPN NBA analyst Flip Saunders would not confirm a report that he was expected to return to the Minnesota Timberwolves as the club's next president of basketball operations.

ESPN NBA analyst Flip Saunders would not confirm a report that he was expected to return to the Minnesota Timberwolves as the club's next president of basketball operations.

NBA.com reported that Saunders has been negotiating a contract, with option years, that could run through the 2017-18 season and be worth more than $9 million over five full years, according to sources.

"What develops right now is yet to be determined," Saunders told ESPN.

Saunders, the most successful coach in franchise history, said he has continued his long-standing relationship with Minnesota owner Glen Taylor. He also said they have talked about various issues.

Saunders, 58, went 411-326 in 9.5 seasons as Timberwolves coach, guiding the team to eight consecutive playoff berths.

Saunders started his tenure with the Timberwolves in May 1995 as president, then added the title as coach seven months later. He shed the title of GM in 2000 in the wake of salary-cap violations related to the signing of Joe Smith.

After his departure from the Timberwolves, Saunders went on to coach the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.

Saunders would replace David Kahn, who has failed to build the Timberwolves into a winner. Minnesota has gone a woeful 89-223 and not reached the playoffs in four seasons with Kahn at the helm.

Kahn said Friday night that he has not met with Taylor to discuss the team option on his contract for next season. He says he will not do so until after coach Rick Adelman makes a decision about returning next season.

Adelman is mulling returning or retiring to be with his wife, Mary Kay, who suffered from seizures earlier in the season.

"First, I wake up every day knowing it's a privilege to have this job, and not a right," Kahn's said in a statement. "Speculation about our jobs is part of this business, especially when you strip the emotion out of it. Speculation is especially understandable now, as we have a deep and talented team, with several cornerstone players, and will be poised for big success once it regains its health."

Adelman has been in discussions with doctors both in Minnesota and his offseason home in Portland to try to get a better gauge on Mary Kay's outlook. Her condition has been improving, but doctors were still trying to find the right combination of medications to help treat the seizures.

"Glen and I have an understanding that we will meet at the appropriate time to discuss my contractual status, but only after we have clarification on coach Adelman's status and Glen has all the information he needs," Kahn said. "It is no different than when we make decisions on players who have options. We wait for the process to unfold. In the meantime, Glen and I have been having conversations about the draft, free agency and other plans."

Kahn has overseen teams that have gone a combined 89-223 in four seasons. He is credited with landing Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio and Adelman as coach and also spearheading a renewed openness from the franchise to international players, a strategy that has injected some much-needed talent into the roster.

But he has also struggled mightily in the draft, clashed repeatedly with his first head coaching hire in Kurt Rambis before firing him two seasons into a four-year deal, and butted heads with star forward Kevin Love during contract negotiations.

The Timberwolves hoped to end an eight-year playoff drought this season. But a rash of injuries sabotaged those plans.

"We had three players, including Ricky Rubio, begin their offseason conditioning and basketball drills in Minneapolis last week, two days after the season ended," Kahn said. "That kind of hard work and dedication is why we will be a special team."

Information from The Associated Press was used inthis report.


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