ESPN NBA analyst and former T'Wolves coach Flip Saunders on Thursday said that he has "signed a long-term deal" to become T'Wolves President of Basketball Operations and will "hold a minority ownership stake in the team," according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Sources said that with Saunders in the fold, T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor is "expected to take the team off the market." Taylor had been "looking for a buyer who would keep the team in Minneapolis." The Saunders news comes after the team earlier Thursday announced they were "not picking up the option" on President David Kahn's contract for next season after four years with the team. Kahn said, "It's always the owner's prerogative. I don't think it's appropriate to say whether it's fair or not. I'm very grateful for the opportunity that Glen gave me." Windhorst wrote Taylor's decision "brings an end to a polarizing reign for Kahn" (ESPN.com, 5/2). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman writes there is a "possibility that Saunders might be able to put a group together to buy the team, something he has been working on" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/3). But NBA.com's Steve Aschburner on his Twitter feed reported he is "still hearing Flip Saunders' 'piece of action' equity stake in Timberwolves < 1% stake. More a sliver of $375M valuation franchise" (TWITTER.com, 5/3).
LEAVING ON GOOD TERMS? Kahn said Taylor did not give "a specific reason" for deciding not to pick up the option on his contract. Kahn: "He feels very badly, I think, because of the injuries that we've had." He added, "Glen likes me a lot, and I like Glen a lot. It was a very warm conversation" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/3). Asked if he wanted to stay in the league, Kahn said, "I don’t know yet. When all speculation [the] last couple weeks started to incur, I had a call from inside basketball and from outside basketball. So I don’t know yet. I’ll stay here and attend to some affairs for now. There’s a lot to do" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 5/2).
RIGHT MOVES: In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins writes Taylor's decision to bring on Saunders was "right," and news of a potential union between Saunders and T'Wolves coach Rick Adelman "brought renewed hope for this beleaguered organization." Saunders brings "competency and credibility," and T'Wolves employees "at every level can trust that Saunders knows how to evaluate talent." They felt the "opposite with Kahn," whose "arrogance just served to alienate people and make him an easy target for criticism" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/3). In St. Paul, Bob Sansevere writes Saunders "wasn't known for making outlandish moves or decisions the last time he worked for the Wolves and probably won't start now." That "already makes him a better executive than Kahn" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/3). Also in St. Paul, Tom Powers writes Saunders will be "welcomed with all the fanfare that accompanies a local hero." He "has a long history here." Taylor is "looking to ride off into the sunset," and this move "probably had as much to do with his wanting to leave the team in local hands as making a change." In that respect, Kahn "didn't have much of a chance" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/3).
BETTER OFF NOW? TRUE HOOP's Henry Abbott wrote there is "nothing everyone in the NBA agrees on, except perhaps that David Kahn was horrible at his job." But Abbott added, "Ask yourself this ... If Kahn's such an idiot, how come the Timberwolves roster is in better shape than your team, with affordable young talent, payroll flexibility and real upside?" Fans can call Kahn an "iconoclastic crank who's short of friends and long on big, pompous mistakes," but "don't call him the worst GM in the NBA" (ESPN.com, 5/2). In Minneapolis, Patrick Reusse wonders, "Have the Timberwolves screwed up personnel opportunities on several occasions in the past four years? Yes. Are the Timberwolves better off in May 2013 than they were in May 2009? Also, yes" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 5/3).