Timberwolves Sign Ryan Saunders to Multiyear Contract as Head Coach

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 20, 2019

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Denver. The Nuggets won 133-107. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

After spending half the 2018-19 NBA season as an interim head coach, Ryan Saunders will remain with the Minnesota Timberwolves full time.

Minnesota confirmed Saunders' return Monday after Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the team had agreed to a multiyear deal to ensure his return. The move had been expected after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on April 9 Minnesota was working to retain him.

Saunders took over in Minnesota after Tom Thibodeau was fired Jan. 6. He became the NBA's youngest head coach at 32 years old and made history with his first victory:

There were growing pains along the way. He went just 17-25 after taking over, and the Timberwolves finished under .500 for the 13th time in the past 14 seasons.

Minnesota didn't exactly put him in the best position to succeed as a first-time coach, interim or otherwise. The organization spent most of the offseason in disarray after the Jimmy Butler situation. That was eventually resolved in November when the team traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers

Injuries also played a role in the poor finish, especially late in the season. Robert Covington never played a game for Saunders after suffering a season-ending ankle injury in early January. Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague each missed the final 15 games because of injuries.

Saunders is the son of former head coach Flip Saunders and started as an assistant in 2009-10 with the Washington Wizards before eventually taking over for Thibodeau in Minnesota. He'll have a fairly talented roster to work with, headlined by franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns.

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