Eight years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Flip Saunders as head coach and they are now bringing him back as the president of basketball operations. Saunders went on to coach the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards over the next six seasons before being fired after 17 games by the Wizards in 2011-2012.
He wasn’t a head coach this season but stayed involved with the game as an adviser to the Boston Celtics. It now looks as if his coaching career is over as he will now join the Timberwolves’ front office.
Starting a season with a 2-15 record before being fired isn’t the best way to end your coaching career but it wasn’t all that bad for Saunders who’s career began in 1995.
In his 10 seasons as the Timberwolves’ head coach, Saunders led the team to the playoffs in all but two seasons. Minnesota only won 20 games in 1995 in his first year with the team and he was fired after 51 games in 2005.
The Timberwolves fell well short of a playoff spot both years though Saunders strung together eight playoff appearances in each season in between. His team lost in the first round in each of the first seven appearances before losing in the Western Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003-04.
The Lakers went on to lose to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals while Saunders was fired by the Timberwolves the following season. He took over the Pistons starting in 2005-06 and went on to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals in each of his three seasons with the team.
His last chance came with the Wizards where he never made the playoffs before being fired and he now returns to the game with the team he started with. During his time away from Minnesota, Saunders kept a close relationship with Timberwolves’ owner Glen Taylor.
The two regularly talked while Saunders was working his way around the NBA and they will now be reunited for the 2014 season. The 58-year-old Saunders worked as an analyst for ESPN during parts of this season and covered multiple Timberwolves game.
He now returns full-time as the president of basketball operations in hopes of turning the Timberwolves into a playoff contender as they were before. If one things for sure, Saunders knows the city of Minnesota as he played college basketball for the Golden Gophers and he still has home there.
Will Flip Saunders help the Minnesota Timberwolves return to the success he originally achieved as the team’s head coach for ten seasons?
[Image via Keith Allison]