MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — While the rest of the NBA and their own fans clamor for the Minnesota Timberwolves to hire a coach and make a move with Kevin Love, the organization is remaining patient with two decisions that could determine the fate of their franchise for the next five years.
The team is letting the search for a replacement for the retired Rick Adelman play out and has yet to see any potential trade talks involving Love, who can opt out after next season, or any of its other players heat up, general manager Milt Newton said on Thursday.
The biggest domino to fall is Love, the three-time All-Star power forward who has been the face of the franchise for the last five years. Love can become a free agent next summer, prompting trade rumors to run rampant around one of the best power forwards in the league.
The market figures to pick up as the draft approaches at the end of June, but the Timberwolves have not ruled out keeping Love and making enough moves to bolster the roster and convince him that he should sign a contract to stay in Minnesota, where he can make more money than anywhere else.
“We’ll do what’s best for the organization,” Newton said. “He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a talent. Our first inclination is to keep him on board. If that’s not the case, you best believe we’ll be a better team based on what happens.”
The Timberwolves haven’t made the playoffs in 10 seasons, so if they do decide to trade their best player, they want to avoid a complete rebuild while doing it. A combination of high draft picks and solid veterans would likely be a starting point for the bidding.
Hiring the right coach would be the first step in setting a new tone for Love. The Wolves interviewed coach Dave Joerger last week, but he decided to stay with the Grizzlies.
The Wolves have had discussions with several other candidates, including Lionel Hollins, Sam Mitchell and Vinny Del Negro, who coached the Clippers and Bulls but is highly unlikely to get the job.
Newton reiterated comments president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has made previously that the Wolves don’t necessarily need to have a replacement hired by the draft.
“We’re not rushed for time to select a coach, the process will take care of itself,” Newton said, before smiling to deliver a quick jab. “I guarantee we will have one before the season starts next year.”
The Wolves also held their first round of pre-draft workouts on Thursday, hosting a handful of players that could be second-round picks or undrafted free agents, including Minnesota guard Austin Hollins, Louisville forward Chane Behanan and UMass point guard Chaz Williams.
The Timberwolves have three second-round picks in the draft, which made Thursday’s workout an important day for a team that figures to be busy well into the night on June 26.
“Not all the second-round picks are probably going to be on the team next year, so you want to be in a position to select guys and have them play in Europe or what have you,” Newton said. “The players that we had today are definitely those level players that we would look at.
“At the end of the day, you may have a guy that really impresses you, plays well in the summer league and finds a spot onto your team.”
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