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NBA Rumors: Saunders Coaching Too?

Could Flip Saunders hire himself as the head coach of the Timberwolves? New names surface in Jazz coaching search… Asik plans to defend Aldridge more.

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Saunders a coach/gm?

Saunders knows firsthand about allures of the position. He coached the Timberwolves for 10 years, leading them to the only eight playoff appearances in franchise history. He also coached in Detroit and Washington, and many believe he would like to return to the bench with the Wolves. “I’m not going to answer that,” Saunders said when asked if he could do both jobs. “You never know. Ideally right now we’re going to do a search. The search isn’t just coming to talk to me. We’ll sit down and put together a list, see the interest those people have and we’ll make decisions based on that.”

Via Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press

It’s not unprecedented for a head coach to also be a top executive as well, look no further than Doc Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers for a current example. But, Krawczynski also wrote that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor prefers for him to be in the front office. However, he is the most successful head coach in the franchise’s history, so it’s not completely farfetched to imagine him being back on the sideline next season.

The only names that have been associated with the Timberwolves’ search so far are college coaches that appear to be unobtainable: Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, Florida’s Billy Donovan and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. Any NBA head coaching job is attractive, but the fact that the team has Kevin Love’s pending free agency hanging over them like a dark cloud could scare away some of the more established candidates. If Saunders can’t land the guy he thinks is best for the job, perhaps he is better off just doing it himself and hiring another executive to handle the day-to-day operations of the team.

Asik wants to defend Aldridge

Asik, however, said defending Aldridge is the top priority and that if he is back on him the plan will be to battle him better before Aldridge catches the ball, rather than after he is going up for his shot. “The first thing is to stop LaMarcus Aldridge,” Asik said. “He killed us almost last game and going into this game, we have to do our best to help him stop a little bit more. “I wasn’t able to do much because I wasn’t able to play much. I always try to make it hard on him before he catches the ball, to make him maybe tired before he gets the ball. He is one of the best power forwards in the league. It’s hard to guard him but we will try our best”

Via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Asik was limited to just 12 minutes in Game 1, which Aldridge dominated to the tune of 46 points and 18 rebounds, because of foul trouble and the fact that his role has been significantly reduced with the addition of Dwight Howard. While he may be the team’s best option defensively against Aldridge, he’s a poor fit alongside Howard offensively, so if he’s the answer Coach McHale has an interesting predicament on his hand. Does he sacrifice the offense to get Asik out on the floor with Howard, or does he sit Howard in favor of Asik? The latter may not sit well with the team’s high-profile acquisition, but McHale has to avoid going to Portland down 0-2 at all costs.

Two new names in Jazz coaching search

Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin and current Jazz assistant Brad Jones have also been mentioned as potential targets — but the early line has Boylen and Messina at the front of the line.

Via Marc Stein of ESPN

Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey has the decisive voice in this hire and it’s a vital one as the Jazz’s fan base is expecting a big leap next season with all the experience their young core got this season. All four names have no NBA head coaching experience, though, and come with a certain amount of risk. It’s still far too early in the search for other names not to get into the mix, so don’t be surprised if the list gets longer. It’s already gone from two to four over the course of 24 hours.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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