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Wolves owner Glen Taylor plans to keep GM Milt Newton, for now

MINNEAPOLIS -- Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said Friday that he plans to keep general manager Milt Newton on through the draft and free agency before making a decision on his long-term future with the franchise.

Newton and coach Sam Mitchell have held their positions this year on an interim basis after the death of Flip Saunders, who was both president of basketball operations and coach, shortly before the season began in October. Taylor has said all along that he wanted to evaluate both men over the full season before making decisions on their fates.

But Taylor said Friday that he still needed more time to fully evaluate Newton because he wanted to give the GM the opportunity to go through a draft and free agency in July and prove to Taylor that he can execute the plan that he has put in place.

"For him, it would be tough for me to evaluate him fully because he has not had the opportunity to go through the draft and free agency," Taylor said to The Associated Press after appearing on WCCO radio earlier in the day. "I have to let him do that in order to have a chance to give him a full evaluation."

Taylor said his decision to give Newton the summer to enact his plan does not mean that he is certain to be the GM at the start of next season. Taylor said the two will sit down after free agency to see where the team is at.

"It has to do with how he goes through the process," Taylor said. "I want to see him do the work and see how he goes about using all the tools available to him."

When Saunders returned to the Timberwolves three years ago, he brought Newton to Minnesota from Washington where the two worked together and became close. Newton worked hand-in-hand with Saunders to reshape the Timberwolves roster, trading Kevin Love for a package including Andrew Wiggins, drafting Karl-Anthony Towns and bringing in veterans like Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller in to mentor Wiggins, Towns, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad.

Saunders died from Hodgkin's lymphoma in October, thrusting the organization into an incredibly difficult position. Mitchell was elevated from an assistant spot to coach the team and Newton was put in charge of the front office.

Taylor said he will make a decision on Mitchell, who has led the Timberwolves to a 23-48 record heading into Friday night's game at Washington, much sooner than he will Newton. Taylor said he has a good feel for the job Mitchell has done, but wanted to see how the team finished the season first.

"I think guys are playing better, have been more competitive and are making fewer mistakes," Taylor said, noting the development of Towns, LaVine, Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng.