Various published and unpublished sources, including Glen Taylor himself, set the expectation that the Wolves would name a new GM this week. Since no announcement's been made yet, all we have to sharpen the speculation (sounds like an oxymoron, right?) are pieces from here and there.
Jerry Zgoda over at the Star Tribune has been doing a fantastic job following the story, keeping everyone abreast of what he's hearing.
UPDATE: As pagingstanleyroberts mentions in the comments below, Zgoda's new name is Randy Pfund.
In the comments of his post yesterday, Jerry had this to say in relation to apparent front-runner Dennis Lindsey's candidacy:
Sure doesn’t look like the GM hiring is going to be this week now. I’d think what’s going on are negotiations. The question is whether Glen Taylor is willing to give a guy like Lindsey the kind of autonomy and (financial) resources he’d want to make the move. That includes, I’d think, the freedom to hire who he wants as coach, the assistant coaches and front-office guys he wants to keep, or doesn’t want to. I’d bet Taylor wants to keep people under contract for next season and beyond to save the money, but if you’re going to make a bold new move you’ve got be willing to give the new guy power and leeway to build his organization. That’s the BIG question now, I’m sure. I think Taylor liked this by-committee approach they’ve used the last couple seasons because it’s how he runs his other businesses. He listens to his top people’s opinions and then he makes the final decision. That’s NOT how it works with functional sports teams.
If they end up with a David Kahn or Fred [Hoiberg] as the new GM eventually, I’d say that means they went to alternate plans because Taylor wasn’t willing to give Lindsey what he feels he needs to do the job right.
That could be one of the rubs, whether Taylor is willing to let Lindsey hire who he wants [as head coach] or how much of a say Taylor wants in the decision. Making the new guy keep McHale seems long gone, but that doesn’t mean the owner doesn’t want a voice. There’s so many “ifs” in that question, depending on if Taylor is willing to spend what it takes to get an accomplished coach. If you’re looking for connections, Lindsey spent 10 years in Houston, a good bit of them when Jeff Van Gundy was the head coach and Tom Thibodeau was an assistant. That’d be two possibilities. The Spurs’ top assistant, Mike Budenholzer, might be another, but it seems like he’s being groomed to replace Popovich when Pop decides to step away. If Taylor needs a comfort level with the next coach, well, how ’bout Sam Mitchell? I think this team needs a veteran head coach to get it to grow. The other guy out there is Avery Johnson.
There's a lot to digest here, which makes me think that it's not just rumination on Jerry's part, but that some of what you just read is coming from the inside.
The big takeaway is that Taylor's really struggling with handing his team over to someone he doesn't know very well, and the associated risk of none of Taylor's people being left when the dust settles.
I don't think you can fault the man for that. Completely changing the guard after 13 years with his good buddy Kevin McHale at the helm on a handshake agreement should cause some discomfort. But as Zgoda implies, if you're going to change, then change all the way.
Firing Randy Wittman and changing McHale's job title seem obvious indications of Taylor's recognition that change is needed.
Jerry had another post today saying a new name is being batted around. Despite his reluctance to name names, a commenter jokingly threw out the names Terry Porter, Charles Barkley, Chad Hartman and Terry Ryan. Zgoda responded with "All I’ll say is one of ‘em is right…," but at this point I really can't tell if he's joking or not. Any of them would be a huge surprise, no doubt, but couldn't a part of you actually imagine something insane like that happening?
One name that hasn't crossed Zgoda's lips recently (or e-lips, or e-words, or whatever) is Sam Hinkie, Houston's VP of Basketball Operations. He popped up on the radar a few weeks ago, so perhaps he's not the left-field candidate, but I've heard through the grapevine that Hinkie might be under new consideration at this stage.
Whoever the new name is, Stop-n-Pop hit the nail on the head in our chat earlier today:
[a new name] means they're keeping their options open or lindsey is out of play
Exactly. All signs have pointed to Lindsey or David Kahn thus far, and Lindsey seems to have emerged as the top choice (at least from us rumoristas), but if a new name is coming up now, then Taylor's almost surely nervous about something (e.g. cost, personnel, "power") associated with hiring Lindsey.
If Lindsey wants to come in and re-create San Antonio's basketball operations structure, Taylor should lock him up and give him run of the mill immediately. Let's see, San Antonio's been to the playoffs the last 12 years in a row and won four championships in that span. Three students of the Popovich/Buford school of NBA Management are Kevin Pritchard of Portland, Sam Presti of Oklahoma City and Danny Ferry of Cleveland.
NEWSFLASH: All four of those franchises are in better immediate and long-term positions than the Timberwolves.
Sometimes a leap of faith is the only thing that can move you forward. We probably won't know if Taylor's willing to take that leap or not until next week, but I can tell you that my faith is resting on it.