Flip Saunders Wanted Jeff Van Gundy To Coach ‘Wolves

06.06.14 3 years ago
Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy (Kirby Lee- USA TODAY Sports)

Yesterday, after an exhaustive search, Minnesota Timberwolves general manager Flip Saunders decided the best candidate to coach the team was himself. Despite the decision to hire himself, Saunders revealed his first choice to coach the ‘Wolves.

Via Sid Hartman of Star-Tribune, the first person Saunders reached out to was former Knicks and Rockets coach, Jeff Van Gundy:

“The first guy that I went to and tried to get was Jeff Van Gundy. He was the first guy,” Saunders said Thursday, when word came out that he would coach the Wolves next season. “… He’s a guy that Glen and I were comfortable [with] and would have hired him off the bat. I feel like he’s the best coach, the best coach out there and has a lot of the same philosophies.

“As Jeff said to me, I talked to him this morning, and he said, ‘Whenever I go somewhere I want to feel that I’m the right guy for that job.’ He said, ‘The reason I didn’t go to Minnesota was because I felt you were the right guy for the job, not me, and I was uncomfortable.’

Van Gundy’s name is mentioned with every coaching vacancy, even though he hasn’t been a coach in the league since his tenure with the Houston Rockets ended in 2007. He has a strong pedigree from his time in New York and Houston, and it’s no secret a lot of teams would love to have him on the sideline. Except, he’s already entrenched in his broadcasting career, and given the uncertainty surrounding Kevin Love‘s future in Minnesota, it’s easy to see how the T-Wolves job wouldn’t pull Van Gundy back into the coaching ranks.

You have to wonder, though, whether hiring someone with Van Gundy’s reputation would have sent a stronger statement to Love than recycling through a coach the franchise has already been with in Saunders. The biggest question is probably whether the coach of the team even matters at this point, or if Love has already made up his mind to head elsewhere.

What do you think?

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