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Timberwolves seek president, reportedly work toward contract with coach Ryan Saunders

Minnesota Timberwolves v Detroit Pistons

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 06: Head coach Ryan Saunders of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts while playing the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on March 06, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 131-119. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Are the Timberwolves keeping Scott Layden as general manager and Ryan Saunders as coach? Or are they hiring a new president to decide on Layden and Saunders?

There were conflicting reports yesterday.

But Minnesota is definitely seeking a president to replace Tom Thibodeau.

Timberwolves release:

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that a search for a President of Basketball Operations will commence at the conclusion of the regular season.
“The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves continues to be very bright,” said Taylor. “It’s more important than ever that we find a leader who can build a successful team in today’s fast-paced NBA. We have the cornerstones of a very talented team and need to assemble the final pieces that will elevate us into a playoff team and one that can compete for championships.”

Even after this statement, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN doubled down on his report about Saunders and Layden staying:

The Timberwolves are hopeful to award Saunders a multiyear deal as coach, sources said. Saunders is likely to get a three-year deal with a team option on the final season, sources said.
Layden has successfully sold himself to ownership as a front-office executive independent of the foibles by his past boss, Tom Thibodeau, sources said.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor seems too attached to Saunders, who has gone 17-24 as interim coach. That’s an even worse record than Thibodeau this season. Obviously, record is far from a perfect indicator of coaching ability, but has Saunders really shown enough to warrant this level of respect?

Potential president candidates will be turned off by this situation. Lead executives generally want to pick their own coach. This is a strong signal about the limited power of this presidency position.

Maybe Minnesota’s next president can talk Taylor into choosing a new coach. But with specific contract terms already being negotiated with Saunders, that seems unlikely.

Keeping Layden isn’t as big a deal. Teams frequently keep support staff in the front office amid changeover at the top. Though Layden holds the title of general manager, that’s a second-tier position below a team president, first Thibodeau and probably soon someone else.