After failing to reach an agreement with the Memphis Grizzlies’ Dave Joerger, the Minnesota Timberwolves search for a head coach has taken a surprising turn. According to multiple reports, former Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro has emerged as a legitimate candidate to take the reins in Minnesota.
ESPN’s Marc Stein initially reported the news, which comes as a jolt considering the Timberwolves’ established interest in several other viable candidates, including former Toronto Raptors head coach and Minnesota forward Sam Mitchell.
Sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that Del Negro, who is also being considered for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ job, was spotted last week interviewing with Wolves president and part-owner Flip Saunders and is firmly in the mix for the post after the collapse of Minnesota’s talks with Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger.
It was widely assumed that Minnesota would turn to co-finalist and former Wolves forward Sam Mitchell after Grizzlies owner Robert Pera unexpectedly talked Joerger into staying in Memphis, thanks partly to improving the terms of Joerger’s contract.
But sources say Mitchell is by no means a shoo-in to replace the retiring Rick Adelman, with Del Negro said to have made a strong impression on the Wolves in their talks to date.
Stein also reports the Timberwolves have interviewed with former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and former Milwaukee Bucks and Bulls coach Scott Skiles. Current ESPN analyst and former Denver Nuggets and Seattle Supersonics coach George Karl has publicly expressed interest in the Minnesota opening, as well.
All of which makes Saunders’ interest in Del Negro vexing to many. Despite leading the Clippers to a now-broken franchise record of 56 wins in 2012-2013, he was ousted as Los Angeles coach after supposedly butting heads with Chris Paul. Prior to Del Negro’s final season in Los Angeles, he guided the Clippers to the postseason in 2011-12 and the Bulls to consecutive playoff berths from 2008-2010.
In a vacuum, Del Negro is among the most successful former head coaches on the market. But wins and losses aren’t always the best indicator of performance. That he was let go by consecutive organizations after postseason appearances speaks to Del Negro’s deficiencies. His simple offensive principles and puzzling lineup choices are among the most glaring, but Del Negro’s propensity for “bothering” opposing shooters by any means necessary is his most infamous coaching trait:
Del Negro isn’t a popular option for the Timberwolves, though he does have an established track record of success in each of his previous coaching stops. He’s not the ideal head coach choice for Minnesota fans, but the Timberwolves could certainly do worse.
Do you think Vinny Del Negro is a good choice for Minnesota?
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