Thursday, June 5, 2014
Saunders new coach; Love status same
Flip Saunders' decision to name himself coach of the Timberwolves on Thursday will have no bearing on star Kevin Love's stance on his future in Minnesota, sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
Love has made it clear to Wolves that he intends to opt out and become a free agent in July 2015 and that has not changed with Thursday’s announcement, according to Stein.
Love's tenuous situation only complicated the Wolves’ search process, with trade rumors (not to mention Love’s thoroughly documented weekend in Boston) serving as a caution sign for several high-profile candidates.
Names like Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and Fred Hoiberg came and went without any traction. Unable to find what they felt was the right fit for a delicate job, Saunders and owner Glen Taylor met earlier this week to reassess the situation. Taylor said when he brought Saunders back as team president that he would not put him back on the bench. He fired Saunders as coach once before, in 2005.
Saunders was also hopeful that he could find someone other than himself to take over a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in 10 years. But with Love's status preventing them from pursuing the coaches they felt would fit best, the two decided that Saunders should take over for at least this season, after which the team's roster construction figures to be much clearer.
The Timberwolves have not given up on convincing Love to play out this season in Minnesota and re-sign next summer to a contract that can pay him and extra year and about $26.5 million more than any other team.
The Associated Press and ESPN.com news services contributed to this report.