Minnesota hopes for new degree of purpose with new head coach

Originally posted on RealGM  |  By Colin McGowan  |  Last updated 2/22/21

There are days when you show up to work and know nothing is going to get done. Some NBA teams have entire seasons like that, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the middle of one. It’s not really anyone’s fault, or more accurately, it is everyone’s fault so you can’t pin it on any one person. D’Angelo Russell has been his regular profligate self, when healthy. Anthony Edwards is doing extremely fun yet unproductive rookie stuff. Karl-Anthony Towns has been going through mental-emotional hell since the pandemic hit. Jarrett Culver might not be an NBA player. Josh Okogie’s got no offense. Ricky Rubio’s shooting percentage starts with a three. Outside of KAT’s genuinely troubling situation, this is all as tragic as you want to make it. Whatever, it’s a bad basketball team playing poorly amid a strange, sad season. You could say the frustration in the Twin Cities is compounded by the Wolves’ rather dismal franchise history, but this particular squad doesn’t have much to do with what happened in other eras, beyond the fact that the coach is Flip Saunders’s kid. 

Or the coach was Ryan Saunders, until this past Sunday night. That hiring always scanned as sentimental in the first place, owing more to the mom and pop way Glen Taylor runs his massive corporation than a thorough candidate search that revealed Saunders as the best haircut for the job. Now, two-plus seasons later, Minnesota has fired Saunders The Younger. Like his father, he seemed a decent man but built on Flip’s tendency to seem a bit in over his head by working the sideline ensconced in a miasma of puzzlement and fear. You ever creep up on a cat that’s enamored with a bird or squirrel outside the window, scratch it between the ears and every hair on its body stiffens like a party horn? Those are the vibes Ryan Saunders was throwing off 24/7. Even the steadiest hand, if put in charge of this Wolves team, would look kind of bored and ineffectual, but the outgoing skipper was downright skittish.

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