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Flip Saunders says if T’Wolves send Shabazz Muhammad to D-League, it wouldn’t be meant as a punishment

Aug 12, 2013, 5:17 PM EDT

Shabazz Muhammad Getty Images

Shabazz Muhammad was sent home from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program for a simple rules violation, and it didn’t appear to go over well with Timberwolves president Flip Saunders.

Speaking in a radio interview on Friday, Saunders said that Muhammad would either “learn the rules and learn to abide by things with the big boys or he’s gonna really quick learn a geography class: where Des Moines is in the NBDL down in Iowa.”

That sure sounds like a D-League assignment would be used to punish Muhammad in this case, and that’s not how teams should be using the developmental league, for a variety of reasons.

The D-League has made progress in recent seasons, and is getting to the point where the majority of NBA teams value it as a legitimate place to develop young talent, or to find a player to add to the roster as a mid-season injury replacement. There should be no negative connotation associated with sending players to develop there, and Saunders wanted to make it clear that it was not his intention when discussing Muhammad’s situation last week.

From Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

On Friday, Saunders in his weekly KFAN radio appearance said Muhammad will receive a fast geography lesson about where Des Moines, Iowa, is if he doesn’t abide by the rules. The Wolves’ D League team is in Des Moines.

“That wasn’t a threat,” said Saunders, who coached in the minor league Continental Basketball Association once upon a time. “That was just saying I’m a CBA guy, I believe in the minor league system and I believe players are down there because they lack the skill to play at our level, don’t have the confidence or don’t have the mental frame. If you don’t have any of those three, then that’s where you go to develop to be successful in our league.”

Saunders also said that the team would not impose any punishment on Muhammad, and that it was a league issue.

Muhammad may in fact spend time in the D-League if the Timberwolves believe he needs to develop, either physically or mentally. Credit Saunders for clarifying that if it does end up happening, it wouldn’t be to discipline his rookie player for a mistake that was made.

  1. shanelsweet - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    When what he said was first reported, it reminded me of how much I disliked him when he was with the Wizards. A good manager doesn’t belittle his employees in public. Flip did it all the time when he coached the Wizards. Good luck recruiting any big name talent while he’s in charge.

  2. edavidberg - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Flip is incompetent. You don’t say stuff like that public. he completely meant it as punishment, then had to backtrack because it is offensive to the Timberwolves D League team.

    This guy is a Exhibit 1A that just because a coach makes the NBA FInals it doesn’t mean he is particularly good at his job.

  3. ghelton03 - Aug 12, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    ‘Cmon Flip, who are trying to kid? MN has never treated Love right and they are off on the same foot with Shabazz. No way any big name free agent would ever sign in MN and no way any existing star will ever resign with MN. T’Wolves organization should be sent down to the D-League.

  4. thomaskouns - Aug 12, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    I don’t have any problems with Flip’s comments. Shabazz had ‘character’ issues coming into the draft and I doubt Flip who was known as a player’s coach had made that comment had he not seen other red flags since the draft.

    I truly doubt it’s a coincidence that the only lottery pick that had major character concerns (Shabazz) was also the only one to break that rule whether you agree with the rule or not. If 60 other rookies could follow it why couldn’t he?

    • franbotel - Aug 12, 2013 at 9:35 PM

      Can u list two of the so called ” character issues” or do you just slander people for no reason. My guess is jealousy is the reason a lot of the nasty posts online about people you would never be as successful as they are.

      • thomaskouns - Aug 12, 2013 at 9:57 PM

        ‘Franbotel’, yes I can list ‘more’ that two Shabazz ‘character’ issues:

        1) investigated by NCAA because improper financial dealings when he was in college between him and agents
        2) lied about his age when entering college
        3) got mad when fellow UCLA teammate hit gaming winning shot and not him
        4)’ issues’ with UCLA teammates

        ‘Franbotel’ feel free to search any of these. Let me know if you want more listed and also read a scouting report or two. What were you saying about ‘Slander’.

      • franbotel - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM

        1- NCAA investigation he was cleared and the investigator fired. But nice to know u sticking for the scum of an organization
        3&4 – If you ever played any team game even middle school counts (video games dont count) you would know that happens in every level – Same crap was said about Kobe
        Also if you would research you would know UCLA has had locker room issues since Ben was hired
        in regards to the age crap – thats is a family issue and what benefit did he get from that

        Am pretty sure you would not survive in his shoes for a minute but keep hating its American as apple pie

  5. mungman69 - Aug 12, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Is that any way to treat the man?

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      As far as how he’s treated… I don’t really have enough information to say whether it’s deserved. As far as basketball reasoning, he shouldn’t be in the NBA anyways.

  6. longtallsam - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    I never took it as a threat. Sounded perfectly logical to me. If Shabazz can’t learn to follow rules, he will probably end up in D-league. That, plus needing to learn a little more about the team concept of basketball.

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