Best Remaining Candidates for Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor IMay 26, 2014

Best Remaining Candidates for Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach

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    The search for the next head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been a bumpy one, and another promising candidate was recently scratched off the list.

    Here's Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press with more:

    The Timberwolves' courtship of Dave Joerger as their next coach halted Sunday.

    Joerger, the Memphis Grizzlies coach from Staples, Minn., interviewed Thursday with Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Sanders and then Saturday with owner Glen Taylor.

    "It became apparent to us and to him that he was going to stay in Memphis," Saunders said Sunday.

    Saunders said possible compensation from the Wolves to the Grizzlies did not "get that far."

    Losing Joerger might hurt a bit, but there are plenty of qualified candidates still available. Time may be an issue at this point, but getting an experienced coach in place who can help guide the team through the draft and free agency probably isn't a bad idea.

    Anything to solidify Minnesota's path at this point will be welcomed. With Kevin Love's future up in the air, signing a coach that can help him stay should be a priority.

    Let's take a look at the best remaining coaching candidates available for the Wolves to pursue.  

Flip Saunders

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    Perhaps the most logical and qualified head coach is already in house. Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders coached the franchise through its most successful period in the early 2000s, and he knows the current roster as well as anyone does.

    But would Saunders decide to come downstairs and return to coaching? Here's Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune:

    Nearly a month after Adelman retired, there’s also the possibility that after doing all his homework, Saunders will decide he’s the best man for the job.

    That only will happen, though, if he convinces owner Glen Taylor than he can — and should — do both jobs.

    Saunders just might do so if he also convinces Taylor he’s the best chance to keep Love in Minnesota after he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July 2015.

    If the Wolves want an experienced coach with a track record of success, Saunders has to be considered a top option.

    Although the balance of power can often be tricky when one man has so much control, the Wolves are absolutely in "win now" mode. With Love still on the team for now, Saunders would be able to acquire the right players and coach them with that mentality established.

    This might not be Minnesota's first option, but it's certainly a strong fallback if no other candidates stand out. 

Alvin Gentry

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    Los Angeles Clippers assistant and former Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry may not be a hot young assistant, but his basketball acumen and experience in the league speaks for itself. 

    Over the years, Gentry has done a great job of getting the very best out of talented offensive players. Whether it was Steve Nash in Phoenix or his work with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in Los Angeles, if Gentry is on the sidelines in some capacity, there's a good chance his team is going to create strong offensive opportunities.

    Here's Matt Moore at with more:

    Gentry had the love of his players in Phoenix, playing an up-tempo style and coaching a chaotic style of defense. He's also reportedly set to interview for several assistant coaching positions. He'll have his pick of several quality options.

    It only seems like a matter of time before Gentry earns another head-coaching opportunity, and Minnesota would be an interesting fit. Although Nikola Pekovic might struggle to keep up, Love's ability to stretch the floor, rebound and throw beautiful outlet passes could spark an even faster paced attack.

    The Wolves need more help on the defensive end, but it's not hard to see this being a top-five offense with Gentry at the helm.

P.J. Carlesimo

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    Again, we're continuing with the idea that Minnesota will want an experienced coach who can guide the team through a rocky situation with Love and get them in the playoffs. With his experience taking over at multiple stops throughout his career, P.J. Carlesimo is an expert at damage control.

    Most recently, we saw Carlesimo right the ship in Brooklyn after Avery Johnson's firing two seasons ago. Although the Nets went with the splashier hiring of Jason Kidd the next offseason, Carlesimo proved his worth as a strong basketball mind and a coach players will work hard for, even with a little adversity.

    Here's Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune with more on Minnesota's thought process:

    At this point, Saunders doesn’t appear interested in 1,000-game winner George Karl, who very much wants to coach again but would prefer jobs in Cleveland and Washington (should the Wizards job open). But Saunders very well could opt for a NBA career coach — such as a P.J. Carlesimo or Scott Skiles — who fits his criteria for head-coaching experience as well as an ability to develop Ricky Rubio and answer questions every day next season about Kevin Love’s future.

    Carlesimo may not be the most exciting hire, but you know what you're getting when you hire him. Minnesota has the talent to reach the playoffs, and Carlesimo is the type of steadying force that could help the Wolves accomplish that immediately.  

Lionel Hollins

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    Former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins has already interviewed with Minnesota, but after missing out on Joerger, the man who replaced Hollins in Memphis, perhaps the Wolves will circle back around.

    In Hollins, the Wolves would be getting a coach with a long track record of coaching successful defenses that really put forth great efforts on a nightly basis. Although Rick Adelman was one of the best coaches the game has ever seen, particularly offensively, his teams didn't always perform up to par defensively and often had lapses on that end.

    Perhaps there's hope that Hollins can do for Ricky Rubio what he did for Mike Conley. Like Rubio is now, Conley was once a solid defensive point guard who couldn't really shoot or impact the game in ways other than his scoring. Rubio is critical for Minnesota's present and future, and Hollins might help oversee his continued improvement.

    There are issues with Hollins, though. It's hard to say how willing he is to accept analytics and their value as a coach, and his clashes with the Grizzlies' front office over the years raise some red flags. Still, Hollins had too much playoff success not to warrant another chance, and Minnesota might be a good fit.

Sam Mitchell

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    A little surprising to hear Sam Mitchell's name pop up again, isn't it? We haven't seen Mitchell coach since he was with the Toronto Raptors back in the 2008-09 season, but the former Timberwolves forward might land a job with his old team.

    Here's Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

    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 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.

    While Mitchell doesn't bring a long track record of playoff success, he is familiar with the organization and the city, which could go a long way.

    For what it's worth, Mitchell is a former Coach of the Year winner, and his intense style could help Minnesota get a little nastier defensively and a little tougher toward the end of games, which were two areas that plagued the team last year.

    Mitchell is an interesting option, although you'd like to think Minnesota could find an experienced coach with a stronger track record.