The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 9, 2013

Saunders remaking T-Wolves front office

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — New Timberwolves boss Flip Saunders went to work Wednesday, reshaping his front office by firing five scouts when he wasn’t holding all-day meetings with coach Rick Adelman.

Saunders fired scouts who were working without a contract or whose contract was due to expire this summer and retained scouts who have years remaining on their contracts.

Gone are international scouting director Pete Philo, regional scouts J.T. Prada, Curtis Crawford and Steve Gordon and special-assignment scout Will Conroy.

Regional scouts Milt Barnes, who briefly was an assistant coach alongside Saunders with the Gophers in the mid-1980s, and Derek Pierce will remain.

Saunders said at his introductory news conference last week that he intended to revamp the team’s scouting, moving away from a regional system that former president of basketball operations David Kahn installed. He also said he intends to hire a general manager and/or someone who specializes in statistical analytics.

Philo had been with the team the longest, for the past eight seasons. The former organizer of predraft EuroCamp in Italy influenced a Wolves roster that last season included five international players.

He helped court Ricky Rubio after the team drafted him fifth overall in 2009 and then waited two years for him to sign and had a voice in drafting international prospects such as Nemanja Bjelica, Henk Norel, Paulao Prestes and Targuy Ngombo.

Philo said Wednesday’s short conversation with Saunders left him “a little bit shook up” and said the most painful part is leaving a team he believes now is poised for success.

“This is a great time for the Timberwolves,” said Philo, who said he was “very, very thankful” to the organization for the opportunity. “It hurts to go through all those years — painful seasons — knowing we had a plan and things have started to shape up.”

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