Minnesota Timberwolves

Report: Sam Mitchell a 'Serious Candidate' for Minnesota Timberwolves Coach

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Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 18, 2014

Sam Mitchell has popped up as a candidate to be the Minnesota Timberwolves' next head coach. But if he does wind up with the job, there's no telling what the roster he inherits might look like.

First, the news on Mitchell's candidacy:

As the Minnesota Timberwolves consider the future of All-Star forward Kevin Love, Sam Mitchell has emerged as a serious candidate for the franchise's head coaching job, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Mitchell left a good impression with Wolves president Flip Saunders in a recent meeting and has moved himself into consideration for the job, league sources said.

Perhaps you noticed Kevin Love's name preceded Mitchell's in the above report. That's because every piece of Wolves news for the foreseeable future will start with the star big man.

ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne report that Love will not sign an extension when he's eligible after the 2014-15 season, and that he plans to opt out of his deal to explore free agency. That means the Timberwolves may soon be forced to trade Love before he can walk away for nothing.

"For the first time, [Flip Saunders] sounds like looking at deals for [Love] is an option," one rival executive told Wojnarowski.

The uncertainty surrounding Love will make potential head coaches wary of signing on in Minnesota. With the big man in the picture, the Wolves are a fringe playoff contender. Without him, they're rebuilding.

Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) between plays against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 130-120. Mandatory Credi
USA TODAY Sports

That's a broad spectrum of possibilities, and it's understandable that candidates are waiting to see how the situation shakes out.

Mitchell is a bit different, though. He's not a highly sought-after coach, and it's unlikely he'd have many other options besides Minnesota if he wants to get back onto the sidelines. He's a big part of the Timberwolves history—such as it is.

He was an original member of the team when it came into being as an expansion franchise in 1989-90. He played his first three NBA seasons with the Wolves, went to the Indiana Pacers for three more and then returned for his final seven in Minnesota.

The Wolves have other targets besides Mitchell, including Fred Hoiberg and Tom Izzo, per Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, and Scott Skiles, per Stein and Shelburne of ESPN.

If Love conditioned his ongoing presence in Minnesota on handpicking a particular coach, you can bet the Wolves would let him do it. But as of now, it doesn't seem like there's any way for the Timberwolves to keep him around.

That's going to make it tough to snare a top-notch head coach.

Mitchell has a little more than four seasons of head coaching experience under his belt. He led the Toronto Raptors to the playoffs twice and won Coach of the Year in 2007, so he's not without a solid resume.

TORONTO- APRIL 24:  Head coach Sam Mitchell of the Toronto Raptors receives the Coach of the Year award from NBA Commissioner David Stern before the start of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New Jersey Nets during the 2007 NBA
Dave Abel/Getty Images

But even with such strong ties to the organization and no other teams burning up his cell phone minutes, even he will probably wait and see what happens with Love.

Get used to that concept. Until the Wolves make a decision on their best player, a new head coach will be hard to come by.

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