It didn’t take long for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ President of Basketball Operations, Flip Saunders, to begin implementing those that will ultimately become his coaching staff. The organization’s Country Club complex is the focal point of offseason criticism, predictable are the decisions of Glen Taylor and Saunders, and that selective, mythical group of members grew larger on Friday.
Sidney Lowe and Sam Mitchell are the newest members of Flip’s coaching staff, entering the 2014-2015 season. Lowe was a member of the Wolves during their first year as an NBA team as well as an assistant and head coach in multiple stints. He returns to Minnesota after spending last with the Utah Jazz under Ty Corbin– Corbin and Lowe were teammates during on that inaugural Wolves team of ’89-’90. Mitchell was a Timberwolf from 1995-2002, and played under Saunders in his first go-around as head coach [’95-’05]. Mitchell received NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2007, but failed to sustain a win percentage over .500 in his four-year stint with the Toronto Raptors.
The troubling notion presented by these changes among the Wolves staff is how predictable they are. Because insanity is defined as; repeatedly attempting the same action only to yield similar results, time and time again, the foretelling result will undoubtedly be failure. Still, the future remains uncertain until the unfortunate, cyclical results are, again, duplicated. Henceforth, the sharper criticism with the employment-turnover is directed at those leaving to make room for the new, Saunders led coaches regime that’s beginning to implement itself with each passing day in the month of June.
Although David and R.J. Adelman, sons of Rick, will remain employed by the Wolves for the duration of their contracts [one more season], not every member of their father’s staff will be retained. The other night, I asked Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 via Twitter about the fate of Jack Sikma. According to Wolfson, Sikma is free to pursue other employment opportunities, as the Wolves will not retain him for the 2014-2015 season.
Sikma was selected with the eighth pick in the 1977 draft, was named to the league’s All-Rookie team, and he eventually became an All-NBA defensive player before careers end. Sikma has spent the previous three-years under Adelman assisting in the area of player development. Back in March, Gorgui Dieng was announced as the NBA’s Rookie of the Month.
“It took a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifices.” Dieng told Mark Remme, “I get here before the other players and work with A.J. [head video coordinator Adam Johansen] and work with the other coaches that are here, and after practice I stay and work with Jack [Sikma]. So it takes a lot. It’s just the beginning.”
Dieng’s surgence in the latter portion of his rookie season was a product the coaching staff. In his 33 appearances before the All-Star Break, Dieng averaged only six-minutes per outing and barely managed to average over one point, and rebound, within that time [204 total minutes]. After that, because of injuries to Nikola Pekovic and Ronnie Turiaf, Dieng saw triple the workload in games played after the All-Star Break– though he proved himself very capable of potentially becoming a pivotal role-player that any team would covet when constructing their roster. His post-ASG averages [nine points, eight rebounds per game] were obtained while playing just over 20 minutes in each of Dieng’s 27 appearances.
How much of Dieng’s production can be attributed to the added effort put-forth by he and Sikma remains to be seen.
Searching for equilibrium, Ryan Saunders, Flip’s son, and an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards. He is expected to join his father alongside Mitchell, Lowe and remaining members of the Wolves staff after his contract expires on June 30th. [Ryan] Saunders aided in the development of a program titled Gametime Concepts, a statistics program used by various NBA/NCAA basketball teams. According to his profile on NBA.com, [Ryan] Saunders has been instrumental in assisting with the preparation for upcoming opponents with extensive scouting reports and statistical analysis.
While the congregating of these Country Club members insinuates that the era of futility that convides the Timberwolves to the doldrums of the NBA, deserving or not, this collection of basketball minds will have the chance to redeem and illuminate themselves under new light. With a fresh start, this bunch will have a lot to prove as they prepare to enter the 2014-2015 season.