Flip Saunders appointed himself as the next head coach in Minnesota, but his decision to take over coaching duties might not have much of an impact in convincing Kevin Love to stay with the Timberwolves long term. Instead, Saunders being the new coach could actually make Love less likely to stay in Minnesota beyond next season, according to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
While the move to the bench could be viewed as an attempt to fast-track the Wolves back on a winning path and have a direct impact in convincing Love to stay, Aschburner wrote that Saunders has already made those attempts, doing nearly all he could to try to build good favor with Love, only to be unsuccessful. Instead, Sam Amick of USA Today wrote the move could have a bigger impact on what the Timberwolves would want in return for Love, rather than a bid to keep the power forward in Minnesota:
In the hours following the coaching decision, the Minnesota message was loud and clear: Saunders made this choice independent of the Love situation. There may be conclusions to be drawn, but they likely have more to do with the Timberwolves' desires in a possible Love trade than they do the far-fetched notion that this relationship can be salvaged.
Why this makes sense
Love wants out, plain and simple. Saunders already did all he could as an executive to keep Love in the fold, even consulting him for suggestions on the team's new practice facility, according to Aschburner. Despite Saunders' best efforts, Love still wants to move on. While a new coach may have been able to come in and sell Love on something new, that won't be the case with Saunders moving to the sideline. Maybe a successful season, led by Saunders on the bench, could get Love to change his mind, but even that seems unlikely. At this point it seems Love's departure is a matter of if, not when, regardless of who coaches or how the Timberwolves play next season.
Why this doesn't make sense
Saunders will have a full plate of duties with his responsibilities as team president and as the coach. There is no question his coaching duties are easier with Love in the fold. Love can't opt out of his contract until after next season. Would Saunders really want to hamstring himself as a coach by dealing away the team's best player? The move to the bench could result in more time for Love in Minnesota and seemingly an extended chance to sell him on the future of the team.
Likelihood - 9 out of 10
Although he hasn't publicly demanded a trade, Love's intentions to get out of Minnesota are well known. The situation has moved to a stage where not much, if anything, will change what appears to be the inevitable outcome. Saunders is a proven NBA coach, but that may not matter. According to Amick, one source said that even if the Timberwolves had brought in Phil Jackson as coach, it wouldn't have changed Love's desire to leave. Maybe a new coach would have been able to sell Love on his vision for the future of the team and convince the power forward to stay. Saunders the head coach won't have anything to sell that Saunders the team president wouldn't have already tried to sell.