Saunders returns to Wolves as team president, minority owner


Flip is back.

Flip Saunders has returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves as president of basketball operations, replacing David Kahn.

He also joins the team as a minority owner.

Team owner Glen Taylor -- who admitted that it was a mistake to fire Saunders as Wolves coach a few years ago -- confirmed that it's a five-year deal, which he hopes "to extend beyond that."

Taylor also says he has decided not to sell the team, and has even decided to expand his ownership role, as he intends to buy out his remaining limited partners.

"I personally will buy them out," Taylor said at a Friday news conference.

"There's no question there's a lot of work ahead with this team," Saunders said. "We have some good, young talent -- but so far they have not reached their potential.

"My goal is for us to become a perennial playoff team and to compete for an NBA championship.

"Success for us is based on getting in the playoffs ... and contending for a championship in the future. I feel I can leave a legacy here in Minnesota."

As for coach Rick Adelman and his plans to return next season: "I have talked to Rick ... I expect him to be back."

Saunders also said he'll start concentrating on the upcoming NBA draft, with the biggest need to "balance" the roster.

"We need to balance the roster and find more players that can fill multiple roles," Saunders said of the days ahead. "It's going to be a whirlwind."

Before the news conference, the Timberwolves issued an official news release official news release, outlining the changes:

The Minnesota Timberwolves today named Phil "Flip" Saunders as the franchise's President of Basketball Operations. Saunders returns to the organization he guided during its most successful years, highlighted by a trip to the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Saunders, who has more than 20 years of professional basketball experience, will be responsible for all decisions made within the Timberwolves basketball operations department. As part of the agreement, Saunders will also assume a role as a Timberwolves minority owner.

Saunders, 58, served as head coach of the Timberwolves from 1995-96 - 2004-05. He led the club to eight consecutive playoff appearances and a Western Conference-best and franchise-best 58-24 record in 2003-04 -- a season that concluded with a berth in the Western Conference Finals.

"I'm excited to be back with the Timberwolves and want to thank Glen Taylor for this opportunity," Saunders said. "My goal is to help the Wolves achieve the success that we experienced during my first tenure with this organization. We have a strong nucleus in place and will look to add assets that will allow us to make the playoffs and eventually compete for an NBA championship."

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