Coachelor

The Coachelor – Episode 3

Coachelor

Written by: Nick Allen and Jonah Steinmeyer

PREVIOUSLY ON: The Coachelor

After Mark Jackson and Lindsey Hunter became the first two coaches to depart from the competition, it was time to spend a little more one-on-one time with the eight remaining candidates. Things became a bit tense as Billy Donovan and Sam Cassell needed to be separated when heated words were exchanged. Tom Izzo and Fred Hoiberg didn’t seem to have as much interest in the job as I would have hoped and it was ultimately the two of them that would be sent home. There have been some new developments surrounding the team in the past week and it will be interesting to see how the six remaining coaches take the news as soon only four will remain.

THE POWER OF LOVE

I initially thought about trying to hide the news or at least downplay the reports that Kevin Love basically wants out of Minnesota. At first I thought the timing couldn’t have been worse. Here I am putting my heart out there for the world to see and now the discussion is how much longer I’ll be able to keep the star in town. I decided not to confirm or deny the reports, but instead use them to see who ultimately had less interest now that Love may not be a part of the organization come next season. It was time to give the contestants an opportunity to ask me some questions in an effort to weed out the serious contenders a little better.

I didn’t have a specific order in mind for this go around, but apparently Sam Mitchell was incredibly anxious to talk to me first. I figured there would be no harm to it, until he came storming into the office I waited in and slammed a manilla folder down on the table in front of me. I began to reach forward to examine what exactly had the man so fired up, but Mitchell snatched the folder up as he began sounding off:

“How in the hell do you expect me to help this team when your best player won’t even be here?! You completely missed the playoffs this season with him being healthy and you’re asking for immediate success in return from the guy that takes over coaching the team?! Listen, we definitely had some good days together, but you’re asking quite a bit of anyone that fills in.”

He put the folder back down on the table as he looked at me, waiting for a response; an answer to his questions. Anything. I picked up the folder, making sure he wasn’t about to pick it up again, and opened it to discover articles and blog posts about what exactly this news surrounding Love meant. A lot of it was speculation, truthfully, which led me to believe Mitchell just wanted to understand the situation better. However, I wasn’t very fond of how Mitchell went about trying to find out. I told him that everyone must overcome challenges if they are to succeed at the highest level. Whether Love is with the team or traded somewhere else, it doesn’t matter; success remains the goal and expectation.
This wasn’t exactly what Mitchell was hoping to hear, apparently. He thanked me for the opportunity to compete for the position, but told me he was no longer interested in becoming the head coach of the Timberwolves and withdrew himself from the competition. I had a feeling this might happen with one of the contestants, but I was a little nervous about this only being the first to talk to me. How strongly would the others feel on these matters? Would anyone else just get up and walk out like Mitchell? Before I had a chance to talk to anyone else, some representatives of the NBA overlooking The Coachelor wanted to talk to me.

I was informed that, due to two of the contestants voluntarily leaving the show, another coach was going to be brought in for me to interview. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. Who could be willing to join the competition after all of these rumors have been flying around? The representatives said the new person wouldn’t be joining until after this round of cuts, but that I would still have to eliminate two of the coaches despite Mitchell leaving The Coachelor. I wasn’t too thrilled about that. I was already having a tough time trying to determine which two would be cut from the six remaining, but the pressure of cutting two from five was even more immense.

My head was elsewhere and I decided to change things up a bit. Instead of meeting with everyone individually after talking to the NBA reps, I decided I would bring the five remaining coaches together and talk to them as a group. I explained that Mitchell had decided to leave the show, which some of them expected. Then I dropped the bomb that two of them would still be leaving by the end of the night and that yet another coach would be joining the competition after these cuts. This news didn’t thrill the contestants, as expected. George Karl guffawed, presumably expecting me to tell them it was a joke. The baffled smile slowly crept away from his face after he realized how serious things just became.

I had to tell them that things are what they are in Minnesota. While no promises can be made when it comes to the Wolves organization, it doesn’t mean I’m a completely lost cause! I expected to come here and fall in love with one of the coaches, not have to answer questions about Love. While some of them may have been displeased with the lack of facetime they got, all I needed to know was whether or not they still had any interest in coaching the team. This was their out, any of them could walk out now or remain on the show…

ROSE CEREMONY

As I sat thinking about my decision coming ahead, I felt like the drama was never going to end. I almost just wanted to call Rick (Adelman) and beg him to come back. But I knew that wasn’t right. All I have to do is breathe, slow my mind and make a decision.

Easy for you to say.

I gathered the remaining five coaches. We’re all used to this part by now but there’s still no denying the pressure it puts over each and every one of us. But, nonetheless, it had to be done. I picked up my first rose and decided I’d say a few words about each one receiving a rose tonight.

“Flip, come get your rose. It’s been hard for me to envision us getting back together in this capacity but I’m warming up to the idea every day. There’s just something about your charm that keeps me thinking ‘What if?’ Will you accept this rose?”

“Next, is you, Billy. Although I know your home is much different than mine but I appreciate how you’ve actually entertained the idea of coming to Minnesota. You’re much different than how Tom and Fred acted with me, and I like that. Please accept this rose.”

“And, finally, this is a really difficult decision for me. You three (Karl, Cassell, Hollins) each have a different, unique connection with me, and I appreciate you all. But I can only choose one. So…”

“George, come on up here! You and I don’t have a lot in common but I can see that you have a general interest in me. I want to see more of that in the coming weeks. All I ask is you not give up on me!”

And with that, Cassell and Hollins were gone.

“Look, Sam, I know that we’ve had our moments together. But I just don’t think you’re quite ready for a head coaching role quite yet. When you think you are, I want you to keep me in mind. And, Lionel, you’re resumé is outstanding and you’re an honorable man with ties to my city, but I want you to consider other opportunities. There’s going to be a special place for you like in Los Angeles or New York. You’ll get your dream job soon enough.”

Next Week on The CoachelorJust as the NBA promised, another coach was going to join my search quite unexpectedly. I mean, why so late in the competition? Does the next contestant even stand a chance considering all the time they’ve lost since we started? How will they get along with the other coaching candidates? Whoever it is, I’m both excited and nervous for them.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.07.09 PM

The Kevin Love Roundtable – Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.07.09 PM

Kevin Love tells the Timberwolves he doesn’t want to stay in Minnesota or even talk a contract extension and all hell breaks lose. We wanted to give you, the fan, different takes and opinions on the sticky situation. This is Part 2 of our Kevin Love Roundtable discussion featuring Nick Allen, Zachary Bennett, Derek James as well as myself, Jonah Steinmeyer. 

Jonah Steinmeyer: I think regardless of which stance the Wolves decide to take, Kevin Love isn’t staying past two more years, at most, and will be traded at some point to at least cash in on part of his value. Because of that, I want to bring up a piece done by Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500. He wrote about what teams received in return for making a big-time deal using Win Shares as the measurement of comparison. For instance, he rated the Dwight Howard trade of 2012 to the Lakers in favor of the Magic because the pieces they eventually returned on Howard’s 15.6 win shares added up to be 23.3. That number comes from the likes of Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and more. Now those pieces didn’t come from L.A. directly, so what that tells me is that a trade is going to be about adding assets, not just a “player.” That means Flip’s going to have a hell of a hill to climb in the coming years that will tell the future of this franchise.

So what I want to ask you guys is what kind of return are you looking at cashing in on, if we all agree that a Love deal — at some point in time — is inevitable? Players that can play now? Expiring cap contracts? Young players/draft picks? Can you come up with a deal you’d consider right now, given the rumors out there?

Zachary Bennett: I’m going to the answer this question but i don’t want to be taken all that seriously, readers. Grabbing the pick that we gave the Phoenix Suns for taking Wes Johnson, back, in a deal that also brings the top-5 protected pick, a role player, and a starter our way would be nice. Although, that would never happen. Something that involves the Golden State Warriors sending Klay Thompson and Draymond Green would be nice. I have an irrational liking for Green, especially. Have to imagine the Wolves try sending Pekovic or Kevin Martin with Love just to rid themselves of questionable contracts, so there will be a lot of pieces in any deal if it were to go down.

Derek James: This is what I’ve been debating on. Assuming that no major pieces move, the team could still be very competitive. So, acquiring a guy who could play now could make a lot of sense. However, it doesn’t make much sense since moving a top option on your team would defeat the whole purpose of trading for Kevin Love since you would want to win now and get him to re-up with you. Also, teams are generally not in a hurry to part with their best players, so it may mean taking on a contract that is less than desirable. Think what the Nuggets did in the Howard trade by taking on Iguodola. That’s probably what the Timberwolves would have to do.

Realistically, their best option may be to look at some combo of young talent and draft picks. I’m not crazy about loading up on draft picks because they are really an unknown quantity, so it would be ideal to get someone that has potential that we know at least something about. Really, you have no idea what is going to come of draft picks, so a young prospect would be what I’m after here.

Nick Allen: I would be more interested in receiving expiring contracts if I had more confidence in Minnesota’s ability to bring in some top free agents when said contract(s) expire(s). Kind of like Derek was saying, receiving players that can play now could still keep the Wolves competitive and in the race for the playoffs. One potential trade I’ve seen people talking about is Kevin Love for Harrison Barnes and David Lee from the Warriors. Now, we obviously have no idea if that’s something Golden State would even be interested in, but a trade like that would give the Wolves two starters in return. I would be surprised to see a deal like that go down, though. I’m anticipating, if a trade is indeed made, that the Wolves receive draft picks and young talent in return. Draft picks can seem nice on paper if you get some good ones, but again like Derek said, you never know what you’re gonna get in that scenario and leads one to wonder if it will just lead to rebuilding the team again.

Kevin Love was once the face of their franchise's draft lottery hopes

Kevin Love was once the face of the franchise’s draft lottery hopes

JS: In a perfect world, I think the Wolves get a draft pick this year, a young player with potential and a player who can come in and fill the void Kevin Love left behind, at least in terms of a dependable starter. But this isn’t a perfect world. Far from it, actually. Because this news broke nationally, this could actually give teams the chance to low-ball until the Wolves have no choice but to pull the trigger on a so-so deal.

Regardless of the return, a trade is going to reveal a new path the Timberwolves have to go down for the foreseeable future, and it could be awfully bumpy. Do you think this dawns yet another Post K.G. era? What are there similarities? Differences? And do you think it’ll indeed take another 10 years to get back to a similar point that the Wolves are at now after unloading yet another superstar?

ZB: No, and I’m going to have to look into this some more. I don’t see Kevin Love leaving at the end of next season being anything like post-KG era. Unless the unthinkable happens and the Wolves hire David Kahn again. I think things will eventually rise above mediocrity for this franchise, it’s just a matter of time. The fans have endured enough, it doesn’t get much worse when you think about the past here — at some point things have got to become successful. Or I’m just crazy.

DJ: I think that would entail another front office change and the selling off of Pekovic, Rubio and others to begin a true rebuild. The big difference between what the Timberwolves did now and then will come down to admitting when it’s time to blow it up instead of trying to piece together a fringe playoff team with spare parts. It could be a long time, or it could be a couple years depending on how things play out. But that’s the thing: there really isn’t a whole lot to know yet.

NA: I think the post-KLove Wolves would definitely be in a better situation than the post-K.G. Wolves. If Love is traded before the ‘14-’15 season, I don’t really see the Wolves making the playoffs for a few years still. 10 years? No, probably not that long. Oh, PLEASE not that long! Similarly to the K.G. situation, however, is that the Wolves would once again be without a star. A professional athlete reaching star status in the state of Minnesota is a coveted thing and I think it could deflate some enthusiasm for the Wolves. Rubio just hasn’t turned into the guy we thought he might become, at least not yet, and it would leave the team and the fans looking for someone to step up. In that case, I could honestly see Wolves fans simply hoping for the Wolves to make the playoffs and be content with the rare achievement, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough. And that’s why we found ourselves having this discussion.

Love

The Kevin Love Roundtable – Part 1

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.03.52 PM

Kevin Love tells the Timberwolves he doesn’t want to stay in Minnesota or even talk a contract extension and all hell breaks lose. We wanted to give you, the fan, different takes and opinions on the sticky situation. This is Part 1 of our Kevin Love Roundtable discussion featuring Nick Allen, Zachary Bennett, Derek James as well as myself, Jonah Steinmeyer. 

Jonah Steinmeyer: Okay, guys. It’s been approximately 48 hours since the Kevin Love news struck Timberwolves nation (62 if you want to give any credit to the iffy New York Post). There’s been a lot of opinion and plenty of overreactions to the news.

First off, let’s just start with what your general feelings are.

Zachary Bennett: Adrian Wojnarowski is undoubtedly the first writer, with credibility, I’ve seen report rumors as they pertain to Kevin Love’s future; all the other ‘reports’ are similar to the NYP column that we saw on Saturday. So, is the gig up? Things feel up in the air, still, so I don’t expect any one-certain thing to happen. Although, I would prefer some things over others when discussing hypotheticals.

Derek James: Well, ultimately I’m not surprised by this news. I think that this was a bit of an inevitability after he was given the four year max instead of the five year max that he requested. As a fellow 25 year old, I understand Love’s desire to be successful and his frustration with the organization leading to his desire to venture to greener pastures. You know that you’re still young, but you want to reach that level of achievement of your peers and feel as if you’re falling behind despite the fact that everyone’s journey is their own.

It will have been seven years by the time it comes for him to opt-out, which is more than enough time to give an organization to prove that they’re the best place for them to be successful. He gave us a lot of great moments and will ultimately wish him well and enjoy watching him as his career goes forward. No hard feelings here.

Nick Allen: I thought it was a matter of time before this kind of news came out. The timing is a bit inconvenient as far as the search for a new coach goes, but it gives the Wolves an opportunity to figure out what they’re going to do with him before this year’s draft. That ultimately may not matter if they don’t end up trading him before the start of the season, but there’s a lot more uncertainty surrounding the Wolves right now than I’m comfortable with.

JS: Clearly you guys all share a very similar opinion at least on the news in general. I mean, Allen said it, it was only a matter of time. Minnesota’s not a great market. The weather is shitty. And the basketball history isn’t any good when you consider the Lakers technically own rights to all the good years.

But what I also think Allen hit on the head was regarding the timing on the whole thing. It’s a strange time because we don’t really know what set the news off. Are these feelings that he’s been hiding for a few years? Is it correlated to Adelman’s leaving? Ricky Rubio’s interview? What do you guys think about the timing on all of this?

ZB: I’m struggling to correlate to anything, because I’m still not sure where this came from. It’s likely denial, but if you do the digging, seems as if things remain still in both camps. Until this point the definitive value of Kevin Love hasn’t been determined; what is he worth? It’s a critical time for the Wolves, because of the implications player salary has while structuring for the future, each decision must be made carefully. All details should be taken into account; it’d be nice to know how much Love is worth.

DJ: It’s been said before, I think by Jon Krawczynski, that Love is very image-conscious and wants to make it a clean break. By letting the Timberwolves know now as opposed to later, and therefore avoid the will he/won’t he drama of Dwight Howard, it makes him look like the good guy by putting the team on the clock. If they get a good return, Love looks better because he gave the team enough time to work for the best deal. If they have to settle for table scraps, it’s not Love’s problem because he gave them lots of notice.

Now, I’m not implying that Love is manipulating the situation, but it makes perfect sense to me since it’s very important, especially with how big of a part Love is of the league’s image. I think that for everyone involved that the timing was rather perfect since it actually gives the team time to seek fair value. Although I don’t believe equal value really exists in these types of situations, unfortunately.

NA: I imagine Love has been frustrated for a few years now with the lack of success the Wolves have experienced. But, kind of like what Derek said, it does seem like Love is trying to give the Wolves an opportunity to work on something that will be best for the team. Well, “best for the team” would be keeping Love, but in a world where he leaves the team, they may need as much time to work on a deal as possible. Like Brian Windhorst said in his article (Which we’ll get to in a bit) about options for Love (and as Derek mentioned above), it’s tough for a team to get great value when moving a star out of town.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.16.40 PM

Kevin Love’s quirks are undeniable

JS: You all bring up great points but I want to visit what Derek said first. You made the comparison between Love’s situation with the absolute debacle that Dwight Howard had in Orlando. He made it clear to the organization that he was unhappy and planned to opt-out when he could. But then the Magic actually put together a strong season, putting the pressure back onto Howard’s camp. That basically forced him to make peace with the franchise and its fanbase to opt-in at least for another season.

I may be naive thinking this but the Wolves could certainly end up like that Magic team. Love might have leverage now but, if the Wolves play really well as a group to start next season with Love still there, they could make the playoffs and even make some noise. I mean, we’re talking about a team with one of the league’s best point differentials and a heap of losses that were within the final minutes. Couldn’t they turn things around quickly and force Love’s hand at opting-in even for just one more season? Your thoughts…

ZB: There’s almost infinite positives and negatives to the ‘Magic Method,’ as I’ll put it. Personally, I wouldn’t dislike the decision to not trade Love before the season. Someone said it earlier, but equal value doesn’t exist in this scenario. The roster in place is built around Love, and, as Jonah mentioned, the team isn’t horrible and there were a few L’s that could have been W’s. Financially, J.J. Barea and Luc Mbah a Moute both have contracts that will expire at the end of next season — and if Love were to walk away — the circumstances of other contractual obligations will allow for enough cap-space to respond from being dumped by a superstar and getting nothing in return. If you thought the team was fun this season, next year the stress and emotions would only be higher.

DJ: It’s possible, especially if the team is able to be aggressive in upgrading the roster, namely the bench unit. There will also be room for improvement from Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, which is a rarity to say of Timberwolves draft picks and actually a big part of the reason that we’re in this predicament in the first place. It’s still risky because you risk losing him for nothing, but even if he opts in, I’m not confident that he stays based on everything that has transpired through the years.

Still, I think the Magic got a good return and as of now are well-positioned to be successful at some point in the future. And they did so by holding their ground, which is different than what Denver did with Melo and what the Jazz did with Deron Williams. Could this work for the Timberwolves? Possibly, but the biggest differences there was that they had proven front offices running the show. And in a lot of ways, this may be the defining moment of Flip Saunders’ brief tenure as the decision maker. What gets back and where he goes with those pieces will certainly sway the public opinion of him, because we don’t really know yet.

My point is, if you  have a smart front office, you can come away from these situations looking alright. So no matter if they trade him on draft day, mid-season or after he opts in, if he chooses to, it will require a sound plan for execution.

NA: It’s certainly possible. Like Zach has been saying, we only know so much about the situation and how much Love would want to stay in Minnesota if things were going well anyway. If reports are indeed true that Love is interested in playing for Golden State, who’s to say he hasn’t wanted to get back to his home state to play for a good team for a while now? Kobe demanded a trade from the Lakers, then ended up signing two more extensions after the team was able to bring success to the table again by trading for Pau. What are the odds of pulling something like that off, though? The offseason then becomes a bold attempt by the Wolves to bolster up their roster for essentially making a big run THIS year. There aren’t any guarantees in that scenario and it could really blow up in the Wolves’ face if they aren’t able to make the playoffs and end up losing Love.

I’d like to think the Wolves are a move or two away from making the playoffs with the roster they currently have, but ultimately I’m just not sure what could be done to change Love’s mind if he really wants to get out of town.

A young Kevin Love on draft night before traded to the Wolves from Grizzlies

A young Kevin Love on draft night before traded to the Wolves from Grizzlies

JS: So, the ‘Magic Method’ will be risky to say the least. But it could be a way the Wolves go in this situation. After all, Howard and Love run parallels in how they want their image perceived by the NBA universe. They’re the nice guy with a big game and want to be adored by all. It really might not be a bad idea but the risk of warming him up to the fans and hoping for a strong season from the team is very risky.

Now, Brian Windhorst wrote about some other ways the Wolves could handle this situation. One was dubbed “The Kobe Plan,” which I really read as “The Dwight Plan” because Kobe was in L.A., not Orlando. Two totally different situations, if you ask me. But the other two were intriguing. The first being “The Chris Paul Plan,” which talked about how Paul essentially gave time for the Hornets to evaluate the best possible trade that helped both parties as best they can. What a guy, eh? The second being “The Deron Williams/James Harden Plan,” where both players were shipped out almost immediately once management knew they couldn’t hold on to them much longer, hoping to get the best possible package in a ‘bidding war.’ What say you guys on either of those options on handling this situation with Love?

ZB: Alright, this is going to sound worse that I intend it to, but, seeing as how losing Love would spark all of the depressing “[defeatist] Minnesota Sports” narratives. Because the writing with this scenario has been on the wall, essentially, since the moment David Kahn got us into this mess — why not just ride it out? Hate to simplify this; but the Thunder had to trade Harden, right? The beef between the legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Williams certainly didn’t make him a fan favorite, so those situations were handled correctly from an outsider’s perspective. For Love and the Wolves, this has been an internal circumstance that Flip Saunders he arrived back in Minnesota. By keeping Love for the ‘14-’15 season, we’ll get to watch the ending of the mediocre movie we sat through this entire time, rather than thinking about what could have been.

DJ: I like the idea of the Kobe plan. Which is essentially the equivalent of telling a disenchanted lover, “Baby, I can change! I swear, I’ll be different!” and going out and grabbing a big name on the market to make a run that makes them change their mind. Or, as I like to call it: the #YOLO! plan. Go all-in. F*** s*** up, make some noise. I mean, what have they got to lose if Love is really gone anyway? Now, I realize the Kobe Plan is contingent on a team giving away their star for 10 cents on the dollar, but let’s not worry about that now.

KOBE PLAN! KOBE PLAN! KOBE PLAN!

NA: What I liked about the Chris Paul Plan was that it was essentially agreed upon that Paul would opt-in for his final year on the contract with whatever team was receiving him, guaranteeing the team two years with him instead of wondering whether or not they’d lose him right away. That would certainly make trading for Love more appealing to teams that may be in the market for him. As for the Williams/Harden Plan, I like the idea of a bidding war for Love because I’d like to think they’d at least be getting a decent deal, considering the situation. It would also be interesting to see what kind of offers would be thrown back and forth between teams. The one thing I really don’t want this all to come down to is a last-second deal before next season’s trade deadline because I’d hate to see the Wolves making some sort of panic deal.

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 11.20.23 PM

NBA Draft & Lottery Quick Hits

Another year, another draft to prepare for. That’s the feeling most Timberwolves fans succumb to every Spring. The only difference is that this year’s seems to be bittersweet. Bitter in the fact that the Wolves really shouldn’t be in this position at all. With a playoff-caliber roster and a bonafide superstar, we’d hoped the Wolves would still be clawing their way through the Western Conference playoffs at this juncture. But instead, Flip Saunders and company are spending countless hours and sleepless nights preparing for yet another lottery pick in the draft.

Have I gotten to the “sweet” part of the occasion yet?

This is obviously a sweet time to be where the Wolves are at in this specific draft. The Wolves hold just a 0.6 percent chance at landing the top pick (And I believe a 2-point-something chance at moving into the top three) but may be sitting pretty at 13, if all holds up. This is one of the deepest drafts in quite some time with potential superstars — note the “s” to make it plural — at the top of the draft. Right there at 13 could be a strong rotational player for a year or two with strong starting capabilities later on. Often times the 13th pick can be a gamble; a box of chocolates, not knowing what you might get inside. But this year there’s just a little bit less of a gamble and little bit more potential of that one player being a special “hit” and not a miss.

Now, I’m not going to get into who could be available for the Wolves or who they may or may not be interested in quite yet because we still don’t know where they’re going to pick from. Whether it’s 13th, 3rd, 2nd or 1st, things will drastically change. I’ll leave that for the crowd after the Draft Lottery takes place on Tuesday. Instead, I want to briefly go over some of the prospects in this year’s draft and also make some predictions on what I think might happen come draft night. If you must know, I’ve been a draft-savant for just about ever, and I’ve been scouting many of the players available this summer since they were underclassmen in high school. Don’t call me an expert, rather just a dude who really loves watching athletes develop into awesome basketball players as they mature. With that, here are just a few thoughts and predictions regarding the 2014 NBA Draft.

  • The best prospect IS Andrew Wiggins. The 2nd best IS Jabari Parker. The 3rd best IS Dante Exum. Sorry, Joel Embiid, but all I see are the physical tools being controlled by a drastically underdeveloped basketball mind. Because of that, that’s who I think should go first, second and third. Embiid is certainly still worth the lottery pick but not in the top three. All I see is in Embiid is a mix between Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden. Oodles of talent and potential in a bruising, NBA-ready body but will struggle with consistency and the potential injury bug throughout his NBA career. Keep him healthy and fresh for a season, he can do what Bynum did in L.A. Ride him too hard and force him into action before he’s ready, his back could pop out and be subject to four microscopic surgeries that will keep him out for seasons at a time. You definitely still take him once Wiggins, Parker and Exum are gone but certainly not before or you’ll likely be sorry.
  • There’s one player that I thought would be a darkhorse but is slowly becoming a household name. That’s Noah Vonleh from Indiana. Did you know he has the biggest hands of anyone in this class? Like, he could probably palm a basketball with his 9 3/4 inch hands! Anyways, with my ill-feelings towards Embiid and his red flags, I think that Vonleh should and will get drafted in the top four. Does that mean he goes before Embiid? I don’t know exactly. Depends on who’s drafting at the top. But someone is going to look at Vonleh and see a star in him. Maybe it’s overvaluing just a tad but look at what the Charlotte Bobcats Hornets did last year by taking Cody Zeller over some other big men like Alex Len and Nerlens Noel. Vonleh will be better than Zeller, so I still don’t think it’s overvaluing saying he will go top four.
  • Shabazz Napier is well-renowned around the NBA after his magic in the NCAA Tournament. The story runs parallels all too familiar to Kemba Walker’s special run with UConn in 2011. Because of that, Walker’s draft stock rose drastically in the months leading up to the draft. I believe that Napier is going to have an even bigger rise. Now, part of that prediction is skewed because Napier’s pro prospects weren’t the best heading into this last season anyways. Definitely lower than Kemba’s, at least. But I think there’s a team or two that will fall for Napier’s heart and determination that they’d be willing to select him in the lottery after Marcus Smart and maybe even before Tyler Ennis. I believe that Ennis has the best long-term potential out of these point guard prospects but Napier has that chance to do exactly what Walker has in Charlotte. If he were to go in the lottery, as long as it’s after Ennis, in my opinion, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
  • I’m a big fan of Julius Randle. I believe that he might struggle to start his NBA career because his offensive game is so original that teams and coaches might struggle to find ways to use him other than isolations and pick and rolls. But once Randle gets comfortable with playing in the post against elite NBA defenders, he’s going to be an uber-athletic version of Paul Millsap. And I like the idea of that. He’s worth a top-five pick without a doubt.
  • There are some really strong shooters in this draft. Gary Harris, Nic Stauskas, James Young, Doug McDermott, P.J. Hairston. All those guys can step up and make a big time shot, and what I love most, they can all play different positions at the NBA level. But if I had to narrow it down to the best “shooting” prospect, it’d have to be James Young. He’s streaky, no doubt, but he plays with swagger and has a J.R. Smith aura to him. I mean, he just signed with Jay Z’s agency and he sat next to Rihanna at the Brooklyn Nets game. Young, to me, is the best prospect who’s labeled a scorer because he’s not just a perimeter jump shooter. He has great NBA size at 6-foot-7 and can score in a multitude of ways. He needs to improve on his body mechanics while attacking as well as his handles but until he does, you could stick him on the wing as a spot-up shooter or baseline slasher until he adds more versatility to his game. I think Young is a great young prospect, who’s value seems to be falling from 10th to 20th. Or just in line for the Wolves to perhaps nab him.
  • Now there’s a couple players, like Embiid, that I have some serious reservations about. The first being Aaron Gordon. The ultra-athletic forward has no real position, loves to dunk and can’t make a free throw to save his mother. In other words, Derrick Williams 2.0 minus the potential perimeter scoring touch. Sure, he plays really tough defense and is a great rebounder but his offensive game is a mess and needs to come a long ways before he ever comes close to putting up just double-digits on average. Another guy I worry about is Zach Lavine. He’s your prototypical risk-reward guy. He comes with so many flags with as young as he is but also has elite athleticism and has shown glimpses of great stuff. But he’s too much of a gamble, if you ask me. Finally, I would definitely stay away from Marcus Smart. It’s not because of the Texas Tech incident or anything like that. Rather it’s the fact that, even while staying an additional year at Oklahoma State, he didn’t really improve from his freshmen to sophomore year. His stats raised minimally, his on-court leadership was questioned. It was just kind of a mess. Marcus Smart should be a good NBA player, but probably only a starter given the right spot. If this was the only prediction I was wrong on, I wouldn’t be the least surprised.

That’s about all I have for tonight. Again, we’re going to be covering the draft significantly this summer because the Wolves have a serious stake involved. We’ll see just high of a stake they’ll have once the lottery takes place but I wouldn’t bet on anything crazy happening. For now, we’ll just have to cross our fingers, our toes, our legs, our arms and even our eyes and hope for the best. Come on lucky, Momma! Daddy needs a new star!

Coachelor

The Coachelor – Episode 2

Coachelor

Written by: Nick Allen and Jonah Steinmeyer

PREVIOUSLY ON: The Coachelor

With the recent retirement of Rick Adelman, the NBA has chosen me, the Minnesota Timberwolves, to be the first first-ever Coachelor. 10 potential coaches were delivered via limo to battle for my affections and a chance to coach the team, but Mark Jackson bowed out immediately upon stepping into the snowy conditions – like a bitch. With eight roses to give to the nine coaches remaining, it was Lindsey Hunter who would walk away without a rose or a chance at being part of the Wolves organization. There are now eight coaches left, and the pressure is on to cut the field down further as only six coaches will receive a rose.

OPENING THOUGHTS

I was pretty excited to get into the next round of the competition once things got going. I wasn’t fully onboard with the idea at first, but this could really be a beneficial experience. It was interesting to see what coaches the NBA corralled for The Coachelor, as I didn’t think a few of them would actually be interested in the job. There were others that weren’t included that I thought might have been good fits for the team or had even expressed interest in coaching. Stan Van Gundy was one of these names I thought could be good for the team.

SVG coached his team to the playoffs all seven full seasons he spent coaching the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic combined. The only time he didn’t make the playoffs was when he resigned as coach of the Heat after only 21 games into the 2005-’06 season. However, SVG expressed that he wasn’t interested in becoming a part of the Wolves after I threw his name out there a few weeks ago as someone I was interested in. I was initially concerned this was because he didn’t want to coach in a place like Minnesota after coaching in Orlando and Miami for so many years, but Detroit’s recent hiring of SVG makes me think otherwise. It will be interesting to see what improvements are made by the Pistons next year and if he can keep his playoff streak alive.

Steve Kerr wasn’t a name that had ever been in the same sentence as “Minnesota Timberwolves”, but his signing with the Golden State Warriors both interests me and scares me as to what the cost of signing a new coach might cost me. I mean, do I have to shell out $25 million over the next five years for a coach with zero experience? Nonetheless, these recent deals are getting me excited for my own potential signing. I’ve also become inspired by the Minnesota Wild’s recent playoff efforts as well. Seeing people rally around the team, even those who hadn’t watched a single regular season game of hockey like myself, was pretty awesome. It’s not that I don’t like hockey, it’s just that, well…Wolves and ice don’t always get along. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the Wild’s first playoff series win in 11 years; the ending of a long drought.

I have a couple of droughts I would like to end myself, and hopefully one of the eight coaches remaining will be up to the challenge.

ROUND DEUX – A FIGHT!

The second round provided myself and the coaches an opportunity to get a little more one-on-one time. I had some questions I just had to ask so I could gauge how serious some of the contestants were. Rumors have been flying around that Fred Hoiberg, Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan all will likely stay with their respective colleges. They’re all appealing options, though. I also had some questions for the guys with less experience and those who haven’t been coaching for a while. It was time for the gloves to come off and see who could deliver their best hadouken (translation: surge fist)!

I first met with the current collegiate coaches. I couldn’t help but confront them about things I’ve heard regarding where they’re currently at and where they see themselves in the next few years. Donovan, well…I’ll get to Donovan later. Hoiberg almost seemed like he was distracted when we were talking. It was like he wasn’t all there. I got him to snap out of it eventually when I spoke of his days playing for the Wolves and how Flip Saunders views him in such a positive light, but he didn’t seem very interested in talking about work. Izzo also seemed like he had something on his mind when I asked him about his current status with Michigan State. Were they really here because they were interested in the job or was this just an opportunity for them to be in the spotlight and perhaps put some pressure on their current employers to keep them there? Hell, Iowa State just gave Hoiberg a raise after this season when his name had started to be thrown around for potential NBA gigs…

The next group of coaches I met with were the ones that are coming off of a layoff from coaching, no matter how long or short. What new tactics can these coaches provide for the ever-evolving game of basketball? What trends have they noticed changing while they’ve been away from the sidelines? Sam Mitchell was fired by the Toronto Raptors 17 games into the season back in 2008 and hasn’t had an opportunity to lead a team since. Mitchell was quick to bring up the fact that he’s been scouting for the Brooklyn Nets for the last couple of years or so now and believes he has an edge over the others in that regard. George Karl has only been “out the game” for a year now and led the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs all ten seasons he coached them. Experience is not the issue with Karl, though, it’s the troubling fact that the Nuggets were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round nine times out of those 10 seasons. Nine. I recall Karl saying: “Hey, you wanna make the playoffs? I can get you there.” Making the playoffs is a start, but it’s not enough.

Lionel Hollins is another guy that’s only been sitting out for a year. His last season coaching Memphis was especially impressive, as the Grizzlies went 56-26 and reached the conference finals. His conflicts with management are troubling, especially after such a successful season. Sounds a lot like what happened recently with the Warriors and Mark Jackson. Hollins was quick to shake that off, however, stating that he learned from the experience and was confident he could help the Wolves achieve more success than they have in the last 10 years. Flip Saunders has had a couple of seasons off from coaching, but has still remained heavily involved in all things basketball. I did my best to keep things professional with Saunders, but I was all sortsa flustered. Ultimately, deciding to keep him around or cut him is going to be the hardest every time.

I saved Sam Cassell and Donovan for last because they got into a bit of a scuffle earlier in the day. I thought it was kind of odd that any of these guys would get into an altercation, let alone these two. I wasn’t present for it, but I was told it had something to do with Cassell telling Donovan to go back to Florida, because that’s what he was going to do anyway. Donovan, as expected, didn’t take too kindly to this and told Cassell he was out of his league with the rest of these coaches and didn’t have enough experience to even be here. While I don’t want to see them literally hadoukening each other, I think Donovan brings up a good point and it was something I asked both he and Cassell about. What I like about Cassell is his enthusiasm. He admitted that he may not have had an opportunity to be a head coach yet, but also stated that you have to start somewhere. Donovan, on the other hand, rattled off reason after reason why prior success as a head coach was exactly what the Wolves need in their next leader.

ROSE CEREMONY

It was that time of night once again. My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing but the ritual must be done. The remaining eight coaches lined up in front of me once again. Although, for some reason, this decision seemed a little bit easier to make than the first time. After all, I had gotten to know these coaches a lot better than I did in that one night, and I’ve also started to learn more about myself and my needs in a coach moving forward.

I grabbed the first rose and began handing them out one by one.

“Sam Cassell…”

“George Karl…”

“Billy Donovan…”

“Sam Mitchell. . .”

“Lionel Hollins…”

“. . . Flip Saunders…”

It came down to my final rose and I had two of the best collegiate coaches standing in front of me. There was just one problem; neither of them were even looking in my direction. In fact, through the entire Rose Ceremony, they were staring straight into their iPhones without once looking up to catch my attention. Before I made a final decision, I had to get down to the bottom of this.

“Tom and Fred, I noticed both of you more engaged with your phones tonight than me. So I have to know: Are either of you here for the right reasons? Do you even want to be my next head coach?”

The two glanced at each other, then at me, then at their phones one last time.

“We don’t,” they said in unison.

And with that, both Fred and Tom left the set, leaving me in tears. It was a hard decision to choose between one of them to stay, considering both were atop my wish list. But the fact is Tom has dodged being courted by an NBA teams for years and Fred is called “The Mayor” at his hometown university. Neither of them have the desire to leave their respective comfort zones. Maybe we’ll never see either of them in the NBA but I damn sure know that the league would be better off with one of them running an NBA sideline. So hopefully it’ll happen one day. But the situation in Minnesota just isn’t right for either of them.

Next Week on The Coachelor: With the two college coaches gone, the remaining five contestants begin to relax. Everyone but Donovan have NBA experience, and it’s starting to come out in their personalities. Can Donovan hang with the remaining big-wigs? Will his inexperience be his downfall? Or will it catch the Timberwolves’ eye to snag a wildly successful college coach with a knack for developing players? Stay tuned!

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 12.16.24 AM

Wolves release renderings of new Target Center renovations

October 13th, 1990.

That’s when the Target Center opened up in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. At the time, it was a state-of-the-art arena that gave the Minnesota Timberwolves a permanent home as well as high school basketball tournaments, concerts, monster truck rallies and just about anything else you can imagine. But it’s been a long 24 years for the Target Center, and it’s endured its fair share of pain. So it’s time for a facelift.

The Wolves have released plans to renovate the Target Center, giving it a fresh, new look from the exterior as well as a brand new, eye-catching glass atrium. It’s no secret that it’s a must-have for the Wolves considering their attendance has been downright pitiful for the past 10 years. A lot of that has to do with the team failing to makes the playoffs in that span but having an old, decrepit building host your games that lack any flavor doesn’t help at all. That’s why these new renderings, although not official because the design process is subject to change, give new life to the fan base and a team looking towards a better future and better odds of making the playoffs. Speaking of, you can check here the latest news for the Timberwolves at Sportbet.com.

Below are the photos officially released by the Timberwolves via BizJournals.com:

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 12.16.24 AM Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 12.16.33 AM Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 12.16.47 AM

Also, if you’re interested, here is the official press release:

New initial renderings for the redesigned Target Center were released today during the Minneapolis City Council’s Community Development & Regulatory Services Committee meeting.

The renderings represent initial design ideas from the design team, and final renderings will be produced as part of the full design process.

The committee also approved a contract with Architectural Alliance and Sink Combs Dethlefs as the architecture and engineering team to update and improve Target Center. Following this meeting, the Ways & Means Committee will hear the recommendation on May 19. On May 23, the full City Council will vote on whether to approve the design team selection.

Target Center is a City-owned community asset that’s been heavily used for 23 years. It is the 22nd busiest building in the nation, and 51st busiest in the world. It hosts about 200 events annually, and about a million visitors pass through its doors every year.

A large portion of the investment in renovations will go toward enhancing the visitor experience for all events, including basketball games, concerts and family shows. This will include improving the flow of entering and exiting the building as well as moving around inside Target Center. The renovated Target Center will also be more integrated into the downtown Minneapolis neighborhood. The transformed facility will be more transparent, giving patrons new views of downtown, while also allowing people outside the building to see the activity inside.  Additionally, visitors at all price levels will benefit from new amenities, including a new scoreboard, new seats and additional gathering spaces throughout the arena.

Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets

Wolves want Livingston?; Iowa Energy no more?

Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets

 

Got a hodge-podge of stories for ya today. The first has to do with Brooklyn Nets’ back up point guard Shaun Livingston. And yeah, he’s the one who had that gnarly knee injury quite a ways back but is still playing basketball, albeit at a high level even. It’s really quite the story when you consider the scope of things

Livingston is going to be a free agent this summer, and given the Nets have already done their fair share of spending last summer to suck up their cap space, there’s a good chance that Livingston will be playing elsewhere this coming Fall. The Wolves were hot for Livingston a few years back under David Kahn, and the interest still seems to be there. According to Darren Wolfson, Livingston and Flip Saunders have a relationship from back in their Wizard days, which could make him a serious target this offseason. It’s no secret that the Wolves will be renovating their backcourt behind Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin. They’ll likely look to trade JJ Barea and maybe even Alexey Shved as well, even though both are signed through next season. Livingston is averaging eight points and three assists per game as the Nets’ go-to guard off the bench. But what’s more intriguing about Livingston is his size. At 6-foot-7, you won’t see many guards handle the ball and defend both positions as well as he does. Until the Nets finish out in the Playoffs, we won’t know exactly what his interest in moving elsewhere would be. Speaking of, check NBA Playoffs betting at TopBettingReviews.com.

Secondly, have you heard of the Iowa Energy? Maybe not but they were the D-League affiliate of the Timberwolves last year. Actually, Shabazz Muhammad was sent there for his brief D-League stint. Anyways, it turns out that they will no longer be the affiliate any longer after the Memphis Grizzlies decided to buy the team as their own. That leaves the Wolves empty-handed in terms of having that luxury at your dispense.

This seems to be a popular business decision around the league. As the D-League continues to increase its popularity and klout, more and more owners are seeing the beneficial gains of securing its own D-League franchise. I think this is going to continue to be a trend until perhaps every NBA team controls single-ownership of a D-League affiliate. That should be recognized as a good thing. It’s a minor leagues for the NBA. The minor league affiliates in baseball have been greatly beneficial in an effort to educate the young, while giving them a home and a chance to play. If the D-League were to expand to 30 teams to accomodate each NBA team, then the NBA Draft would certainly be expanded by at least a couple rounds. And then, by default, more and more college and international players would be given the opportunity to play basketball in America at a professional level.

I think only positive things can come out of this new trend. It’s likely a long ways from ever getting to the point that I envision but, if it ever were to, the NBA would become a powerhouse money-maker. Cha-ching.

Coachelor

The Coachelor

Coachelor

Written by: Nick Allen and Jonah Steinmeyer

Relationships aren’t easy.

Not just finding the right one, but maintaining them can be just as difficult. That’s been my problem lately. Well, I suppose I should introduce myself before going on much further. Some of you may know me as the Minnesota Timberwolves; others simply refer to me as the Wolves or Pups. It’s all the same to me. As you may have heard, I find myself in the same position I was in three years ago: without a coach.

It’s kind of exciting to be back on the open market, to be honest. My three seasons with Rick Adelman represented the second-longest tenure any coach has had with me before. Is it sad to see him go? A little. His 42.2% winning percentage is the third-best of the 10 coaches I’ve had since my formation in 1989, behind Flip Saunders (55.8%) and Dwane Casey (43.4%). Adelman helped me finish third in the division for the first time since the 2004-’05 season and finished just three wins shy of becoming the second coach to win 100 games with the team. However, he ultimately wasn’t able to snap the embarrassing streak of what is now nine straight losing seasons and ten seasons without making the playoffs. I think the timing was right for both of us to move on.

Of the 25 NBA teams that currently have a head coach, their “relationships” have lasted an average of about 2.8 seasons, or roughly 230 games so far. Gregg Popovich’s 1,410 regular season games coaching the Spurs kind of skews that number, though. Without Pop, that number drops to about 2.2 seasons, or around 180 games. The average length of my past relationships has been about 2.44 seasons, or about 200 games. It’s normal to keep track of these things, right? Either way, at least I’m not the Pistons, who have serious commitment issues, getting rid of two coaches in a in just 10 months from February!

I’m one of five teams that will already be hooking up with a new coach for next season, but the NBA chose to come to me with this unique opportunity. I wanted no part of it at first, but decided to give it a little thought. After weighing my options for several moons, I ultimately decided to take the NBA up on their offer; an offer that could potentially find me a new coach for the long-term, which is what I want right now. I couldn’t let it slip through my paws. I thought I’d be embarrassed to say it at first, but if it puts me in a better position to find a coach that will bring me back to the playoffs, then I must be prepared to admit that I am . . .

The Coachelor.

OPENING NIGHT

I was pretty anxious heading into the first night. Crunch offered to be there for support in making such a difficult decision, but I told him it’d be better for me to do this on my own. As expected, the NBA withheld the identities of the 10 coaches that would be arriving to the mansion. I was a little disappointed that I would have to cut the number of people from 10 to 8 by the end of the first night. The first cut would basically be all about the eye test. Who could pass it?

I was at least able to convince the NBA to do one thing, however. I figured one would need to be able to deal with the weather conditions if they’re going to coach the Timberwolves, so the NBA pulled a few strings with some people I don’t think I want to know. Several inches of snow were dropped throughout the state as temperatures plummeted and the arrival of spring prolonged. Sorry, Minnesota.

10 coaches to arrive and only eight roses to hand out. Let’s do it!

I put my cleanest jersey on and went to the front of the mansion to greet the group of potential coaches. A giant fountain stood in the center of the driveway, sprouting water high into the air as green and blue lights made the water glow in the night sky. That water must’ve been freezing. The first limo approached, passing by giant torches surrounding the fountain. I truly felt butterflies for the first time. Who would be the first to arrive?

The limo slowed to a halt, its tires crunching over the snow as the driver got out to open the door…

THE CONTESTANTS

George Karl: Rumors have been swirling around as to whether or not Karl is interested or if I’m even interested in Karl as a potential coach. The fact of the matter is, you never know how things will go down in the off-season and Karl’s presence on this list of candidates is to be expected at the very least. Five NBA teams have called on him before to lead their players and he brings 25 years of coaching experience to the table. Karl’s teams have only missed the playoffs three of those 25 seasons. However, he has never been able to win a championship. A lot to consider.

Sam Cassell: Here’s a familiar face! As many remember, Cassell played point guard with the team for a couple of seasons from 2003-’05. Cassell was made an assistant coach under Flip Saunders with the Washington Wizards back in 2009 and one can only imagine how useful his experience and knowledge has been for guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. How could he help Ricky Rubio?

Tom Izzo: Will he stay or will he go? I have a feeling there will be a couple of other people that show up on here in similar situations as Izzo. Reports in March suggested that Izzo wouldn’t be interested in leaving his coaching gig at Michigan State for a crack at the NBA, but it hasn’t been ruled out. His presence here confirms it. So there. How can Izzo translate his collegiate coaching success into the NBA, if he so chooses to go down that path? Izzo seems to be able to rally his team as well as anyone by the end of the season, making the Spartans dangerous every March. Can he make the Wolves dangerous in April, May and June?

Fred Hoiberg: Ah, another former player of the team steps out of the limo. Hoiberg played on the team for the same stretch as Cassell, retiring after the 2004-’05 season. Hoiberg took a front office job with the Wolves and eventually became the head coach of his alma mater, Iowa State. The Cyclones have shown improvements after each season under Hoiberg, reaching the Sweet Sixteen in this year’s tournament. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him at Iowa State, but it may be tough to pull him away.

Lionel Hollins: After bringing the Grizzlies to the playoffs three straight seasons, losing in the conference finals in the final season of those three, it was a surprise to some to see Memphis cut Hollins loose. After having taken this season off from coaching, Hollins’ name has been floating around for a coaching job next season. While Hollins’ separation with the Grizzlies may have been largely due to conflicts with management, he’s still an interesting candidate for the job with proven success in his coaching career.

Sam Mitchell: Man, another one? I’m not complaining by any means, it’s great to see old players showing up for a chance to coach the team. Some may not know that Mitchell has head coaching experience. After spending most of his playing career in Minnesota, Mitchell spent a couple of years as an assistant nearby in Milwaukee. Mitchell was given a chance to coach the Toronto Raptors where he failed to make the playoffs for the first two seasons, but improved the team by 20 wins from the 2005-’06 to ‘06-’07 seasons, winning the NBA Coach of the Year in the process. He was never able to help the Raptors get past the first round, but he did show he can help a team improve.

Mark Jackson: I was kind of surprised to see Jackson step out of the limo, but interested in the prospect of him becoming coach nonetheless. Unfortunately, I recall things happening almost exactly like this… Jackson gets out of the limo, looks at the snowy ground and says: “Aw, hell no, take me back to the other side of the fountain. I’m out!”

And just like that, I only had to get rid of one person.

Lindsey Hunter: This is an interesting one. Hunter served as the interim head coach for the Phoenix Suns in 2013, going 12-29 in 41 games as the coach. The Suns ultimately went with Jeff Hornacek to take over for the ‘13-’14 season, leading Hunter to go to Golden State as an assistant coach. While the Warriors’ regime under Jackson was rocky, to say the least, Hunter could still be an option for the head coaching position. If not with Golden State, then maybe somewhere else.

Billy Donovan: I’m kind of surprised by Donovan’s presence. I didn’t really expect him to be here, considering his relationship with the Florida Gators. I don’t know how interested he truly is in a chance at coaching in the NBA. He agreed to coach the Orlando Magic back in 2007, but changed his mind less than a week later and ended up staying with the Gators. While his back-to-back championships several years ago and four-straight Elite Eight appearances are impressive, how interested would he be in moving from Florida to Minnesota? And would he actually commit to the deal if we got to that point?

Time for the last person.

The limo pulls up and the door is opened. My heart stops. I wasn’t expecting to see an ex- here tonight . . .

Flip Saunders: Although my owner, Glen Taylor, has stated he would prefer Saunders to stay in a front office role within the organization, I figure there must be a reason why Saunders is here with the others. Just to stir things up? To cause drama? I mean, he is the only coach to lead the team to the playoffs and have a +.500 coaching record over 10 seasons. And I know he won’t turn away because of the snow.

THE FIRST IMPRESSIONS

There are so many great choices, and thanks to Jackson’s early self-entitled departure, I only had to eliminate one more coach this very night. They all have so many great qualities, so I spent time getting to know them from the beginning. There was a lot of surface talk, chit-chat. I wasn’t all that interested but kept telling myself that this is a long, grueling process and I needed to be thorough. I couldn’t just get to know these coaches on that deep, intellectual level right away. Some seemed distant, like Izzo and Hoiberg. I tried to get them to open up but they seemed preoccupied, like their hearts weren’t really into the idea of the job because they had something else pretty great back home already. And then some were very forward in getting to know me more. I liked that but Hunter, more specifically, continually pushed himself into my conversations and really only kept talking about himself, like it was his way or the highway.

THE ROSE CEREMONY

The end of the night was near, and I had to step away to make my decision on who was going home tonight. I sat and looked over their resumes and thought more and more about what kind of interaction I had with each of them through the night. Oh, this is just so hard. It made me question why I said yes to this whole ordeal in the first place. But then I thought of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and the Wolves’ restless fanbase, who just want to simply make the playoffs. This is bigger than just me.

I called the coaches in for the first Roses Ceremony. My hands were trembling as these prestigious basketball minds lined up in front of me. I picked up the first rose, and my words just stumbled out, “These roses belong to the coaches who truly believe that they can help the Wolves make — and advance — through the playoffs.” In no particular order, I started calling out their names to come take a rose.

“George Karl … Sam Mitchell … Sam Cassell … Billy Donovan … Lionel Hollins … Fred Hoiberg … Tom Izzo … and (gulp) Flip Saunders.

“I’m sorry, Lindsey, but you, just like your dear friend Mark Jackson, seem too bullheaded and selfish to be my next head coach. Things in Golden State ended pretty rotten, and although you did some terrific work while there, the baggage was just too much for me to take on at this point.”

With Hunter and Jackson officially gone, the remaining coaches gathered for a toast and I assured them all that I will do my absolute best to get to know them in the coming weeks. It’s going to be a long road in finding my new head coach but I’m embracing the challenge head on, knowing that my fans and players will have my back.

Next week on The Coachelor: The coaches continue to push for my attention and I’m kind of enjoying it. Not many before this point have vied for the job this hard, so it’s something new and exhilarating. But just as everything seems to be going just fine, one of our contestants tells me he’s just not ready to be with me on this level quite yet — or maybe even ever. Stay tuned!