Sam Mitchell deserved another shot as an NBA head coach at some point — he had done a good job building up the Raptors when he was north of the border before, he had paid his dues since.
But this is not how he wanted to get that chance.
With the passing of Flip Saunders on Sunday, Mitchell will coach the team for the season, and Milt Newton will take on an expanded role as general manager, owner Glen Taylor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“Sometimes, positives can happen,” Taylor said. “In this particular case, let’s see what these people do, let’s see what their leadership is. Going through difficult times, maybe we’ll see people bloom into what they might not have been otherwise.”
The two of them are going to get a season to see if they can grow and develop this talented young roster. This is about the worst way possible to get a year-long job interview, but as Taylor said he wants to see what they can do.
Taylor said the team will wear a patch honoring Saunders on their uniform or warm-ups, although whether those will be approved by the league and in place for opening night remains to be seen. Before the Timberwolves home opener Sunday there will be some remembrance of Saunders, he added.
Newton said there were some brief discussions with the NBA about postponing Wednesday’s road opening for the Timberwolves, but the talks were never serious.