Flip Saunders Has ‘A Lot of Work To Do’
The first time Flip Saunders conducted a Timberwolves draft, he and former college teammate Kevin McHale had only seven weeks to compile scouting reports, conduct player workouts/interviews and rank the 60 best prospects on a top-secret, ever-evolving list from which they plucked a teenager named Kevin Garnett.
Eighteen years later, Saunders is working off seven weeks’ preparation once again.
This time, though, he is the team’s new president of basketball operations, taking over a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since he coached Garnett and the Wolves to the Western Conference finals in 2004.
His team owns four picks — including two in the first round, Nos. 9 and 26 — in Thursday’s NBA draft, one that’s purportedly deep in talent into the second round but lacks a probable superstar at the top, such as the one 1995 unexpectedly delivered with the fifth overall pick.
“But I’d take something like that,” Saunders said, referring to Garnett’s selection long ago.
Saunders succeeded David Kahn, who on the day his contract wasn’t renewed in April declared the Wolves roster he constructed these past four years the most talented in franchise history by apparently forgetting the 2004 Saunders-coached team that included Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell.
Saunders acknowledges he has inherited some foundational “nice pieces” — two-time All-Star Kevin Love and precocious point guard Ricky Rubio foremost among them — around which to build, but in the next beat cautions that “we have a lot of work to do” with a team that last season again started 6-1 Luke Ridnour at shooting guard.