By: Alex Berg
When Flip Saunders tragically passed away in October, major holes and question marks filled the Minnesota Timberwolves organization. He was the president of basketball operations, head coach, and minority owner of the team.
Now, as the 2015-16 season is into its back half, majority owner Glen Taylor has to be thinking about the future leadership of this team. Who does he want to be in charge of putting a roster together? Who should be the head coach? Should he give the same key to both vehicles? Perhaps most importantly, does he want to sell the team?
It seems as if everyone is already replacing interim head coach Sam Mitchell. Heck, I am guilty of this myself. Even as someone who feels like he has become a “Sam Mitchell apologist,” I have a “wish list” of who I would like to see coach the Timberwolves next season. But the reality is that we have all jumped the gun on that front. It would be incredibly redundant to replace Mitchell before addressing the question marks higher up in the organization.
General manager Milt Newton was hired for his position by Saunders in September 2013, but it was widely assumed Saunders was the one calling most of the shots. It is believed by many that Newton’s hands are still tied to an extent in regards to having the power to make a drastic roster move.
In no way am I calling for Newton to be replaced, all I am suggesting is the team either needs to commit to him as the guy or find someone to commit to before even thinking about finding a new head coach, or even committing to Mitchell for an additional season(s.) With signs of improvement from many young players and better lineup combinations, Mitchell has shown measurable improvement since the beginning of the season that could justify both him and Newton returning for the 2016-17 campaign. *Ducks*
No head coach with other options would willingly step into job where he might have a new boss(es) in the very near future. Also, not many general managers will rush into a power struggle with a head coach that just took over an incredible amount of young talent. This does not even touch into the possibility of potentially having new ownership making decisions as well. Hiring the right people (KAHNNNNN!) to make leadership decisions for the Timberwolves hasn't exactly been Taylor's strength over the years, so with the pieces in place already on the roster, it will be important to put the right people in charge.
The David Blatt, Jeff Van Gundy, and Tom Thibodeau conversations are tempting to have right now. But the reality is no ideas of replacing anybody should be entertained until this season is over. I think it is important for Wolves fans to remember why the team is in this situation and to take this season at face value for what it is. This offseason will likely be very crucial in deciding the future of the franchise, but it can wait until then.