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Updated: May 25th, 2014 8:49pm
Zulgad: Flip's focus needs to be solely on getting the best deal for Love

Zulgad: Flip's focus needs to be solely on getting the best deal for Love

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

This is getting ridiculous. Oh, wait, who are we kidding? It got ridiculous long ago.

The Timberwolves have gone 10 seasons without making the playoffs and far too often have made embarrassing moves and decisions that left fans shaking their heads. Then there were the moments when the organization's luck seemed to be nonexistent.

This was supposed to end when owner Glen Taylor named Flip Saunders as his president of basketball operations last May. Yet, the silliness still seems to be alive and well.

The latest head-shaking-moment occurred Sunday evening.

That is when reports surfaced that after productive meetings with Memphis coach Dave Joerger that had the Staples, Minn., native in line to be named the Wolves coach, Joerger was no longer a candidate because he finally had a heart-to-heart meeting with the Grizzlies owner Robert Pera.

Joerger had talked to Wolves' officials assuming that he was about to be a part of Pera's housecleaning plan, but instead he found out the owner not only wanted him to stay but was willing to sweeten his deal in Memphis.

It's mind-boggling to think that Joerger had to use the Wolves to find out he was still wanted in Memphis, but Saunders needs to wake up Monday morning realizing that it's time to prioritize matters.

If Fred Hoiberg, Tom Izzo and Joerger were Saunders' three top candidates, then he needs to tell Taylor his search is over and that Saunders is going to be the coach next season.

The NBA draft isn't even here yet and the season is still months away. So why is there a rush for Saunders to make this move?

That's simple. Saunders must realize this offseason is about one thing and one thing only. That's trading disgruntled forward Kevin Love. Getting used for leverage by other coaches, whether that was Joerger's intention or not, is a waste of time for the Wolves and Saunders can't afford to be wasting his time.

No matter what the Wolves say publicly, they know they have to trade Love this summer and that attempting to keep him around would be a mistake. Sources from the Love camp have made it clear more than once that he's going to opt-out of his contract and walk away after this coming season. There are zero indications that he's kidding or would be willing to change his mind. 

For Saunders to put his energy into anything but making sure he creates a significant market for Love is a terrible idea. Here's the issue with Saunders attempting to hire a coach. What's the biggest sticking point for any legitimate candidate, and not just those desperate to get a job?

All of them want to know what's going to happen with Love. But there is no clarity when it comes to that situation and Saunders is in no position to make promises.

The theory of many all along has been that Saunders wants to be on the bench for the 2014-15 season. If that's the case, then let's be done with it. This isn't because we believe Saunders will be a huge success, it's because he needs to understand that his only job right now should be getting maximum value for Love.

Any effort Saunders put into trying to hire Joerger in the past week means that time wasn't spent on Love.

So here's some simple advice, Flip: Tell Taylor you're going to coach the team for at least one season, make sure you hit a home run on the Love deal and then go about creating some clarity with your basketball team.

Once that happens, it's going to be much easier to get someone from the top of your coaching wish list to have a real interest in coming to Minnesota.

If all of these issues are handled in the right way - and that's a big if -- things might begin seeming a lot less ridiculous around Target Center.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Kevin Love
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