Candidates left to consider (or not) for Wolves vacant coaching job
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A week ago, the Timberwolves' quest to find a new head coach appeared to be nearing its conclusion as Memphis' Dave Joerger suddenly emerged as the lead candidate.
But after a swing and miss on Joerger, who turned down Flip Saunders and Co. to stay in with the Grizzlies, the Wolves are once again back in the hunt for a successor to Rick Adelman.
As the search stretches into its fifth week, there is no clear frontrunner now that Joerger is no longer an option.
Plenty of names continue to be tossed around, however.
We'll sort through the list of names, from coaches thought to still be in the mix to others that are likely not in the running.
Let's start with the elephant in the room. Saunders' name won't be removed from the Wolves coaching buzz until he announces the hiring of another candidate. Saunders seems more and more intent on bringing in a fresh face. Still, the possibility of Saunders naming himself head coach shouldn't be completely ruled out, although he is certainly aware of how that move could be perceived.
Saunders' coaching ability rivals any available candidate. Plus, he could always do it on a short-term basis until somebody else he likes becomes available. The real question: can General Manager Milt Newton handle the day-to-day operations of the front office?
While he has already met with Saunders and owner Glen Taylor is a fan, Mitchell may be more of a longshot for the job than early reports on his candidacy indicated. Mitchell, who spent five years with Toronto, hasn't been a head coach since 2009 and was last on the bench as a Nets assistant in 2010. He could be a possibility to land in Minnesota as an assistant.
Saunders and Karl have ties going all the way back to the old Continental Basketball Association, but Karl has yet to have any contact with the Wolves. The 63-year-old coach, currently an analyst with ESPN, is interested in returning to coaching.
"I respect the process," Karl said Wednesday. "I want to coach again. Minnesota fits my criteria."
Based solely on resume, which includes playoff appearances in 22 of his 25 seasons, Karl is best coach available on the open market. But given his age, he is viewed as a short-term fix. The Wolves want long-term stability and a coach Saunders knows he can work well with.
Hollins spoke informally with Saunders several weeks ago, but there have been no talks since. Hollins got a rotten deal in Memphis when he was fired in 2013 after four seasons, despite a 56-win campaign (2012-13) and three straight playoff appearances. He deserves another shot, although it likely won't come in Minnesota.
Skiles has talked directly with Saunders, but Skiles' agent has not spoken with the Wolves yet. Skiles has 13 years of head coaching experience, most recently at Milwaukee, where he posted a 162-182 record across five seasons (2008-13).
McMillan is at least worth mentioning. Currently with Indiana as Frank Vogel's lead assistant, McMillan coached the SuperSonics for five seasons before leaving to take over at Portland, where he stayed seven years until he was fired 43 games into the 2011-12 season.
Vinny Del Negro
Del Negro has had success as a head coach, despite a reputation as a questionable tactician and rough endings in his two NBA stops (Bulls and Clippers). He led the Clippers, a 32-game winner in 2010-11, to the second round of the playoffs in 2012. A year later, Del Negro's squad posted a then-franchise-record 57-win season in 2012-13, but he was fired after a first round playoff exit.
Out of coaching since he was fired by the Nets in 2013, Johnson is reportedly in no rush to return to the NBA, possibly waiting until his son, Avery Jr., finishes up his freshman season at Texas A&M next year. Either way, there hasn't been word on whether he is on the Wolves' radar. Johnson has a 254-186 all-time coaching record.
Jackson has proven he can win games in the hyper-competitive Western Conference - back-to-back playoff appearances with Golden State -- but friction with Warriors' ownership and front office management contributed to his firing in May. That's enough to scare the Wolves off.
Hoiberg seems destined to be an NBA head coach someday, but he has been adamant in declaring his intentions of returning to Iowa State next season. It's possible he could be lured away from his hometown of Ames if a team offers up a large chunk of money. But for now, don't bet on it.