After the firing of head coach Tom Thibodeau about halfway through this past season, the Minnesota Timberwolves made Ryan Saunders the interim head coach. Now they are going to remove the interim label and give him a multi-year deal to be the teams head coach going forward. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic was the first to report that the team and Saunders were working on a deal that is expected to be finalized early this week, while Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Saunders is currently putting together his staff for the upcoming season.
While being the head coach on an interim basis this past season, Saunders, the son of the late Flip Saunders, compiled a 17-25 record in 42 games. During that stretch Saunders had to coach the team while dealing with injuries to some key rotational players, which contributed to him only going 17-25, but the feel among the players was that they wanted him to be back as the head coach.
Going into this season it’ll be interesting to see the mindset of this Timberwolves team with a full season of Saunders. Thibodeau is so well-known for being an absolute grinder that can tend to grind his players to the point of exhaustion over the course of a full NBA season. Now, those players will be coached by Saunders who just turned 33-years old last month and should be able to relate to the players better.
Saunders will have some talent to work with. The Timberwolves of course have Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, who are talented players but have yet to really accomplish anything at the NBA level in terms of winning, but they also have Robert Covington and Jeff Teague signed through at least next season, so Saunders has a roster capable of winning some games.
The Western Conference is tough, but Minnesota should be able to win some games this season and it’ll be up to Saunders to get the most out of a roster with some high-end talent. With that being said though, he seems to be the coach the players wanted so there’s no reason they shouldn’t do what they can to win for him.
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