Timberwolves Not Considering Firing Ryan Saunders Despite 16-37 Record

Blake SchusterContributor IIIFebruary 14, 2020

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders reacts to a referee's call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

As the Minnesota Timberwolves undergo some wholesale changes at the All-Star break, the fate of head coach Ryan Saunders isn't up for debate. He's staying on as coach regardless of this season's record.

"No, no, no, he is hired," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told the Star Tribune's Sid Hartman. "A young guy and he is going to get better as time goes on and we just have to give him that time."

Saunders, the son of the late Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, is just 33 years old and in his first full season running the Timberwolves after having succeeded Tom Thibodeau in January 2019 as the interim head coach. While Saunders is 33-62 to date, it makes sense to hold off judgment on his abilities while president Gersson Rosas continues to mold the roster to his liking. 

Rosas orchestrated trade deadline deals to acquire D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley. Even with the departure of Andrew Wiggins in the Russell deal, the team is arguably in a better position now than it has been since Saunders took over. 

"[Saunders] is excited about this change that now he has guys that can play the kind of basketball he wants," Taylor said. "He is really a believer in the three-point shot, moving the ball fast and getting up and down the court. He needed some players that were better three-point shooters than what we had previously."

It didn't take long for Saunders to provide evidence that Rosas and Taylor were correct. The team hit a franchise-record 26 three-pointers—Beasley had seven of them—shortly after the trade deadline deals were completed while taking down one of the Western Conference's top contenders in the Los Angeles Clippers

Timberwolves fans looking for the team to continue its overhaul will have to wait a bit longer before there's a change on the bench. There's also a distinct possibility Saunders grows into the coach Taylor and Rosas believe he can become. 

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