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Minneapolis • Welcome back, Flip.
The Minnesota Timberwolves hired Flip Saunders as the team's new president of basketball operations Friday, bringing him back eight years after he was fired as the head coach. Saunders replaces David Kahn, who was fired Thursday after four seasons on the job, and he will have a minority stake in the franchise.
Bringing Saunders back into the fold marks a return to the only real success the team has had since coming into the league in 1989. He coached the Wolves from 1995-2005, leading them to eight straight playoff appearances, including a run to the Western Conference finals in 2004.
Saunders was fired the next season, and the franchise has cratered since his departure. Kevin Garnett was traded, Kevin McHale was fired and the Wolves have not been back to the playoffs since Saunders was on the sideline. Even after a difficult exit, Saunders managed to maintain a close relationship with Wolves owner Glen Taylor. The two talked often as Saunders worked his way through coaching jobs in Detroit and Washington.
"We are thrilled to have Flip back with the Timberwolves organization," Taylor said. "Flip is one of the more experienced and creative minds in basketball. He knows what it takes to win in the NBA and we are confident that he will do what is necessary to lead us to a return to our best days as an organization."
The 58-year-old Saunders, who also starred at the University of Minnesota, kept his home in the state after he was fired, and showed up at a handful of Timberwolves games this season while serving as an analyst for ESPN.