The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 6, 2014

Wolves' Saunders assumes unique position of power

He's now president, coach, part-owner of Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS — When Flip Saunders sat down at a press conference Friday, he assumed a position of power within the Minnesota Timberwolves that sets him apart from most everyone else in the NBA.

Saunders is now the team president, the head coach and a part-owner in Minnesota. The status gives him as much influence on his team as any one person in the league, but both he and owner Glen Taylor said they wished it didn't have to come to this.

Kevin Love's uncertain contract situation prevented them from hiring a replacement for Rick Adelman that they believed would do a better job than Saunders, a 16-year coaching veteran who has taken his teams to the conference finals four times and has 638 career wins.

"It was always my preference if we could find another person to take on that leadership role that I'd like to have Flip concentrate as president of basketball operations," Taylor said. "But I think after discussing it, looking at it, the best scenario that we came up with was that Flip should take on that added responsibility."

Doc Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers, Stan Van Gundy with the Detroit Pistons and, to a certain extent, Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs are the only others in the league that wear both coach and executive hats. Add to it Saunders' role as a minority owner that was secured when he came back to the organization last year, and he has his fingerprints all over the franchise that employed him as a coach from 1995-2005.

"We went through the process and you look at everything and it came down to there is always a coach at the right place at the right time," Saunders said. "I believe I'm the right guy to coach this team in this situation. It's time to put my tool belt back on and go to work."

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