The Wolves continue to move quickly to find a new head coach and president of basketball operations. According the the Star-Tribune, owner Glen Taylor has spoken with Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks, and Jeff Van Gundy about the coaching and/or president positions in the last few days, with a meeting with Van Gundy taking place yesterday in Cleveland.
The Vertical reports that Thibodeau is intent on having organizational control, filling both the coaching and president roles, following his difficult relationships with the front office in Chicago. Presumably Van Gundy is discussing the job on the same basis.
According to that same Vertical article, Korn Ferry, the search firm Taylor hired to help with this process, has identified possible candidates to fill the general manager job should Taylor choose to hire someone for both positions, though presumably either Thibs or Van Gundy would have significant input in who they work with. Two names identified are Scott Layden, currently a San Antonio Spurs assistant GM with a long front office history in the league, and Ed Stefanski, currently EVP of Player Personnel for the
Utah Jazz Memphis Grizzlies (sorry; had Utah in my head because of Layden). and also a former GM. More on these two as the situation clarifies.
It appears that Taylor is moving in the direction of hiring one person to be in charge of the entire operation, including both coaching and personnel control. This is a turnabout from his position prior to Flip Saunders taking over as coach, when he expressed a preference to separate the jobs. I remain leery that combining them is the best option, but it seems like a model the NBA is embracing more and more and might be the only way the Wolves can lure the top coaching candidates.
Neither Thibodeau nor Van Gundy have front office experience, so there is risk in giving them so much control. Further, while clashes between coaches and front offices have ruined seasons and relationships for many NBA teams in recent years, I think there is value in having multiple voices with decision making power involved. Single visions can too easily get narrow.
That said, I believe Thibodeau is the best coach on the market, and it seems worth the risk to me to hire him to run the organization; at the very least he will work extremely hard to succeed. Van Gundy is also an interesting possibility; he's had success as a coach and clearly has the smarts to do it; he also seems reasonably humble and self-aware of his weaknesses. On the other hand, it remains a bit troubling that he hasn't worked in the league in nearly a decade, and has never been in charge of personnel.
Here you will find a video of Zach LaVine appearing on an ESPN show with Tracy McGrady. McGrady speaks glowingly of both Van Gundy and Thibodeau, who coached him in Houston when Van Gundy was head coach of the Rockets and Thibodeau was on his staff.
It continues to sound like the Wolves might have a coach/president in place within the next week or so, though things are never done until they are done, as we've seen before.