February 20, 2015
The contract extension Kevin Garnett, 38, will sign with the Timberwolves this summer will be for two years. During that period, Garnett and Wolves president-coach Flip Saunders are expected to try to form a group to buy the team from Glen Taylor.
Garnett has amassed more than $325 million in salaries during 20 seasons in the NBA. Saunders, who turns 60 on Monday, has made an estimated $40 million during 17 seasons as a NBA coach.
The Wolves, for whom Taylor paid $88 million in 1994, were valued at $625 million last January by Forbes. Taylor, who turns 74 in April, is amenable to taking in more limited partners. But he's not interested in selling his team until he finds out what the Atlanta Hawks, who are for sale and currently are taking bids, end up going for.
It's clear, though, considering the NBA's new $24 billion, nine-year media rights deal that begins next year, that Garnett and Saunders will need considerably more wherewithal to buy the Wolves.
Taylor doesn't know what his team will be worth then, but it will be a lot more than it is now.
Meanwhile, word is Garnett has matured since his days in Minnesota, where he was paid nearly $200 million by Taylor and in his final days with the Wolves seemed unappreciative. If Garnett, who is being paid $12 million this season, has indeed grown up, he and Taylor could improve a relationship that once became strained. Money talks.
As for Saunders returning to coach the Wolves next season, Taylor and Saunders still haven't talked about that scenario. But the Wolves owner is open to either possibility.
It will be interesting to see whether the Garnett acquisition, which could translate into more victories, adversely affects the Wolves' chances in June's NBA draft lottery.
Resuming play after the all-star break last week, the Wolves' odds of winning this season's NBA championship were 10,000 to 1, according to MyTopSportsbooks.com .
Former Wolves coach Dwane Casey of Toronto was 15-to-1 odds to win NBA coach of the year. Minnesota native David Joerger, who Saunders tried to pry from Memphis last summer, also is 15-to-1.
The firing of Flip Saunders as Timberwolves coach was the most unjust move in my 70 years of covering sports in Minnesota.
After Saunders was fired in February 2005, star forward Kevin Garnett was candid expressing his opinion that the team that only a year earlier had reached the Western Conference finals now lacked chemistry and focus. Garnett is never one to hide his opinions, and his feelings were certainly well-known to Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor, helping convince the team's vice president and owner that a coaching change was needed.
HOUSTON - Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders had a relationship full of twists and turns. They were teammates and best friends at the University of Minnesota. McHale was the team vice president of basketball operations when Saunders was hired to coach the Timberwolves in 1995. But it was also McHale who fired Saunders in 2005, creating a rift between the onetime best friends.
McHale on Monday shared his memories with Houston media of Saunders, who died Sunday from complications associated with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The Rockets coach recalled his recruiting visit, when he "never saw the campus" because Saunders, his team host for the visit, took him fishing.
"We went fishing and drank beer," McHale said. "I said, 'I think I'm going to like school.' ... We've done a lot of stuff together through the years. We worked together for a lot of years, went fishing, did a lot of stuff together. Just a sad, sad day. Way too young."
On their basketball bond, McHale said: "Our lives were intertwined through basketball from the day I met him, when I was a 18-year-old kid, all the way up to this summer when I ran into him. Basketball was our fabric and he loved basketball. He had an unbelievable passion for basketball and went through the CBA. Came up the hard way.
"[He] coached right out of college and coached Golden Valley Lutheran College in the Twin Cities area and we were all over there helping him coach and watching his teams. He'd run the scores up and the score would be 140-30 and I'd be like, 'Flip you can't just run up the score like that.' But he loved to let his guys go and we had a lot of fun. He had a passion for basketball and he was a good man and I'm going to miss him a lot."
Coach Doc Rivers on Monday at practice talked about some of good times he had with Flip Saunders, the former head coach who died Sunday at age 60 after a fight with cancer.
“We were very close, obviously,” Rivers said. “Coaching the Goodwill Games together was where our relationship started.”
His favorite memory came when Saunders began flying with Rivers’ Boston Celtics during the 2012 playoffs as an unofficial assistant coach after Saunders was fired by the Washington Wizards that January.
Rivers and Saunders had a deal where they would walk back to the hotel after a road game, regardless of the distance. The first round in Atlanta was a 2-mile walk.
“Then we got to Philly and that walk was 7 1/2 miles and so the first game we did it, the second game we did it,” Rivers said. “And then we lost (Game 6), which we could have knocked them out. We go back in the coaches’ room and everybody’s down. But Flip looked just despondent.
“And I was like, ‘Why are you so upset?’ He said, ‘I don’t care about the loss, I’m pissed because we have to talk back to the hotel 7 1/2 miles.’ And we did it. He was just great to be around. I love him. It’s really sad.”
June 7, 2012
Two weeks ago, the Washington Times published an article on former Timberwolves coach FlipSaunders' involvement with the Boston Celtics coaching staff during the playoffs. Celticscoach Doc Rivers brought in Saunders as an adviser for the team's postseason run, which would move into the NBA Finals if the Celtics can defeat Miami on Thursday night.
May 25, 2012
PHILADELPHIA | In his 2 1/2 seasons in Washington, former Wizards coach Flip Saunders often smiled wistfully when talking about the best player he ever coached, Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett.
Drafted by Minnesota out of high school at age 19, Garnett teamed with Saunders to lead the Timberwolves to eight playoff appearances, including a trip to the Western Conference final in 2004. Garnett was voted MVP that year.
Fast forward to 2012, and Saunders and Garnett are reunited - Garnett as a 36-year-old veteran nearing the end of his career and Saunders as a playoff adviser to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a longtime friend. Right now, their focus is on Game 7 of their series against Philadelphia on Saturday. At stake is a trip to the Eastern Conference final.
Flip Saunders doesn't sound like a coach worried about his future.
The Boston Celtics won Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, pushing the Detroit Pistons to the brink of elimination and a possible shake up.
BOSTON - Dave Cowens helped the Celtics win two NBA championships in the 1970s and last night, as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons, he got to see this year's Celtics up close.
How would these Celtics fare against Cowens' championship teams?
"We'd kick their (butts)," Cowens said with a laugh.
"Who would guard me?" Cowens asked.
Demise of New Big Three Costs Flip His Job
February 14, 2005
Last June, the Lakers and Timberwolves competed for a spot in the NBA Finals. It looks like this June they'll be competing again - for a coach.
May 4, 2004
Kevin Garnett came to Minnesota a gangly 19-year-old from a high school in Chicago. Like many his age, he was loaded with dreams and ambition. He told executives with the Minnesota Timberwolves that one of his dreams was to become the best player in the National Basketball Association.
May 27, 2004
LOS ANGELES -- See if you can guess what this is.
"Hey ref, open your eyes!"
"What are you waiting for to blow that whistle?"
"Call a foul, you dummy!"
No, it's not an angry fan in the cheap seats yelling at the officials. It is part of the Timberwolves' new game plan against the Lakers. At least, coach Flip Saunders would like it to be part of the plan. And he wants Kevin Garnett to be the one mouthing those unkind words.
McHale, Saunders forge New Big Three in Minny
April 4, 2004
One is quiet but a fire inside drives him. Another is always talking, the one who makes sure the offense runs smoothly. The third is a $100 million player nicknamed the Big Ticket.
Those three players -- Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell and Kevin Garnett -- have been the glue holding together the Timberwolves this season. How they play usually dictates the outcome of a game. If all three are on, the Wolves likely win. If only one is on, and in that case it's usually Garnett, the Wolves usually struggle.
March Madness took on a different meaning for the Timberwolves on Thursday when star point guard Stephon Marbury was traded to the New Jersey Nets in a three-team, nine-player deal that also involved the Milwaukee Bucks.
Garnett Staying; How about Googs and Marbury?
January 7, 1999
Long live Da King! Now, about Da Kingdom.
The beat-the-count settlement this week that averted a knockout for the NBA also guaranteed that Kevin Garnett will remain the world heavyweight salary champ for the foreseeable future.
With a six-year contract weighing in at $ 126 million, Garnett seems likely to keep the belt at least until this new collective bargaining agreement expires in 2005.
And that makes him Da Luckiest Kid on the planet.
Saunders Prepare to Take Garnett and Co. to Next Level
October 31, 1997
Moments after the Timberwolves suffered a first-round sweep in last season's NBA playoffs to the Houston Rockets, Flip Saunders mapped out the direction of the franchise, saying, "Our age of innocence is over."
Triumvirate Coming into Own Under McHale, Saunders
January 12, 1997
DOUBLE-DRIBBLING while noticing that Oliver Miller's next endorsement should be for Wonderbra:
Nobody should be getting too carried away this early in January. But if the Knicks can crow about moving into first place in the Atlantic Division, why can't the Timberwolves start getting excited about a potential playoff berth?
December 27, 1996
For once, things are going the way the Minnesota Timberwolves planned.
Tom Gugliotta is playing like an All-Star, Kevin Garnett is emerging as a dominant force and Stephon Marbury is the point guard the Wolves needed.
September 7, 1996
One of the first things the Timberwolves might have to stress to Stojko Vrankovic is that he can ease up on the treadmill. The 7-foot-2 Croatian center broke a few while passing time with the Boston Celtics.
Saunders Reaches Handshake Deal to Keep Gig Indefinitely
August 10, 1996
Flip Saunders' job description now officially includes coaching duties.
Saunders, who started out as as the club's general manager, had been operating as interim head coach since replacing Bill Blair after Blair was fired last December.
November 2, 1996
It's early in the game and Stephon Marbury is in the lane, and there's about two feet of air between his feet and that spiffy new parquet floor at Target Center. His arm is cocked, ready to fire. A San Antonio Spur is waving a hand in his face, but Marbury is going to shoot anyway. No, wait. He's passing. A nanosecond later the ball is in the hands of Kevin Garnett, who is open, wide open. Garnett shoots. He scores.
McHale, Saunders Discuss Deal for Dee
January 10, 1996
The Timberwolves apparently aren't waiting until the NBA's Feb. 22 trading deadline to make a move.
Wolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale and coach/general manager Flip Saunders confirmed Tuesday that the club is involved in trade talks that could reshape the roster before the deadline.
Before joining the Wolves in Los Angeles for Tuesday night's game against the Lakers, McHale told KFAN-AM he's discussing possible deals with four teams, including a three-team trade.
McHale declined to be specific, but league sources indicated one of the deals might involve Isaiah Rider going to Boston in exchange for Celtics guard Dee Brown. Brown asked the Celtics to trade him after his role was diminished this season under coach/general manager M.L. Carr.
"We're not going to string things along," Saunders said before Tuesday's game. "If we work out something we like, it could happen pretty quickly. People around the league know that when Kevin took over the club, changes would be made."
During his radio interview, McHale said he was optimistic of completing a trade "within a week."
The Wolves' No. 1 need is to find a point guard to relieve Terry Porter from playing 30 to 35 minutes per game. Brown, a five-year veteran, has played point and off-guard for the Celtics.
Despite the trade conversations, Saunders said the Wolves haven't been "shopping our players around."
"People have been calling us about certain guys," Saunders said. "Even though our record isn't that good, we had been playing fairly well until Sunday night (113-97 loss at Portland)."
Any key trade likely will disturb the nucleus McHale and Saunders had been promoting before the season. To get a quality point guard or true center, the Wolves could be forced to part with Rider, Christian Laettner, Tom Gugliotta or Doug West.
May 21, 1996
A major test awaits the Timberwolves management tandem of Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders. After one year on the job together, they are faced with the critical decision of whether to improve the team's position to select Georgetown's Allen Iverson or Georgia Tech's Stephon Marbury in the June 26 NBA draft or make a trade to obtain a veteran point guard.
February 25, 1996
Would Christian Laettner still be a Timberwolf had he apologized for his criticism of rookie Kevin Garnett?
Based on Laettner's history of not repenting, he was probably earmarked for departure anyway.
Laettner, traded with Sean Rooks to Atlanta for Spud Webb and Andrew Lang on Thursday, had two opportunities to apologize during a team meeting at Detroit on Monday morning. Wolves coach/general manager Flip Saunders hoped to clear the air before that night's game against the Pistons.
"You've got to have the rookies and young kids shut up, and you've got to have the coaches and the veterans take care of the team," Laettner said after Sunday's loss to the Washington Bullets. "We've got some big britches on this team. We've got a lot of people who know everything."
February 20, 1996
Christian Laettner kept up his attack Monday on the Timberwolves' younger players, citing "a lot of undermining on the team bench" as part of the reason for his brief spat with Kevin Garnett during the Wolves' 108-96 loss to Washington on Sunday.
Laettner declined to be specific in his allegations, but he challenged the Wolves' coaching staff to solve the problem.
January 9, 1996
Kevin Garnett's on-the-job training in the National Basketball Association has a new schedule. Tonight, work will begin with the opening tip instead of a summons off the bench.
The Timberwolves' former high school phenom will make his first NBA start tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers.
November 5, 2014
The expansion Timberwolves had gone through six losing seasons by the time May 1995 came around.
They had yet to find the type of player who would transform their franchise.
Head coach Flip Saunders and then-general manager Kevin McHale found their man a few minutes into watching Kevin Garnett play in a Chicago gym.
"Just watching him, you just knew he was going to be a special player because most of the special players somehow they were a freak of nature and he was just because of his unbelievable size and agility," Saunders told Metro New York before Wednesday's game against the Nets.
December 22, 1995
For nearly six months, Bill Blair was the teacher helping Timberwolves rookie Kevin Garnett make the transition from high school to the National Basketball Association. Just when Garnett thought he was learning his lessons, Blair was fired.
November 18, 2010
Flip Saunders has spent as much time as anyone watching Kevin Garnett play basketball.
Saunders coached the Timberwolves for the first 10 years of Garnett's career. So Saunders, now the coach of the Wizards, knew how much Garnett was hobbled last season as he recovered from knee surgery.
Saunders also has seen how much better Garnett has looked early this season.
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