Of the six teams that have fired coaches already — Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Washington, Toronto, Philadelphia and Sacramento — the Kings, Timberwolves and 76ers are expected to recruit Saunders the hardest.
What would make him come back this season? Saunders didn’t say, but he would be hard-pressed to turn down an offer to be both coach and general manager. The Timberwolves would be the one team that could offer that.
For the record, the Wolves’ next three games are at New York (11-16) on Friday, followed by home contests against Orlando (22-6) on Saturday and Memphis (9-19) on Monday before a Tuesday date against Dallas (16-11) to ring out the year.
Suffice to say there are no sure things in there for the Wolves, who haven’t won since a 105-103 victory at Oklahoma City on Nov. 28 and admitted that the streak is on their minds.
“I don’t want to set no record, especially a record like that,” Foye said. “I like setting records for rebounds.”
With no practice Wednesday or today, rookie forward Kevin Love said he would fly to New York early to be with friends and relatives.
Going home to Oregon really wasn’t an option.
“I didn’t want to go all the way back to the West Coast and then have to make the trip, red-eye all the way back to the East Coast,” he said. “It would have just been too much.”
A Bulls source confirmed to me a yahoo report that the Minnesota Timberwolves asked the Bulls up for five airline tickets in order to let Bob Ociepka become an assistant coach on Vinny Del Negro’s staff.
“Everyone expected the Wolves to give the blessing and let Ociepka go,” a league source told yahoo. “It was common courtesy.”
The Wolves wanted the tickets in order so they could fly in candidates to replace Ociepka. The demand is believed to be an NBA first. My Bulls source didn’t know if the team actually agreed to paying for the tickets.
Randy Foye entered the NBA the same season as Smith. He has seen first hand just how much his pro teammate has gotten better.
“He really has grown as a player since he got here,” noted the Wolves guard. “His jump shot has grown and he works hard and lifts weights every day.”
Foye quickly dismissed the notion that Smith is a tweener. “I feel that he is a unique ‘4’ man to me,” he continued. “He can take guys off the dribble and can also post up bigger guys. His game is unique because he is the only big man in the NBA that I’ve seen besides Shawn Marion who effectively shoots floaters. He has worked really hard on his game.”
The Timberwolves, who have lost 13 straight games, have 10 players with guaranteed contracts for next year.