MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Timberwolves have named Flip Saunders as the team's new president of basketball operations.
The team announced the hire on Friday during a press conference at Target Center. As part of the deal Saunders is also getting a small piece of the ownership pie for agreeing to replace David Kahn.
It's a welcome home for Saunders, who served as head coach of the Timberwolves from 1995-2005. He's the only head coach to lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs since the franchise's inception in 1989. The Wolves made eight straight playoff appearances under Saunders, including a run to the Western Conference finals in 2004.
Saunders was fired the following season, but remained in close contact with Wolves owner Glen Taylor even as he took head coaching jobs in Detroit and Washington. He spent this season as an analyst for ESPN.
In fact, Saunders says his relationship with Taylor is one of the big reasons he agreed to take on the challenge of trying to resurrect the struggling franchise. He talked about coming to Minnesota 40 years ago as a skinny kid from Ohio to play hoops at the U of M, and making relationships that last to this day.
"Unless you're from Minnesota, you don't get it. Even when it snows on May 3," he said, eliciting laughs from the crowd.
Still, Saunders admitted, it will not be an easy road back to being a playoff team. "There's no question there's a lot of work ahead with this team."
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