Skip to content

Flip Saunders talks D-League (he loves it) and roster building

Aug 20, 2013, 4:37 PM EDT

File photo of Washington Wizards coach Saunders during an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston Reuters

Flip Saunders came into the Wolves and team president, decision maker and with a piece of ownership having the goal of making this team a winner. And improving the front office’s relationship with Kevin Love so he doesn’t bolt in a couple years, but frankly a big part of that ties back to winning.

Saunders spoke with Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune in a Q&A that included discussion of the D-League — where it is possible Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng will spend part of the season — as well as Nikola Pekovic’s new deal and team building. (He also talks about not coaching, click the link to read him say he’s okay with it.)

Let’s start with the D-League comment, which when he first said Muhammad could spend part of the season there, Saunders came off as almost threatening the team’s rookie (who got kicked out of the NBA’s Rookie Seminar).

I’m a proponent of minor leagues. I was there seven years and had 21 guys called up. It’s a good development league, it’s not a punishment league. Guys can get better and gain confidence. We’re going to try to utilize it. I don’t think we’ve used it very much here in the past. If we send somebody down, we’ll send somebody from our staff with them so they don’t feel we’ve forgotten about them. That’s the biggest thing: You don’t want anyone that goes there to feel they’ve been forgotten.

Now saying that, we might not have anyone go down there this year, but we are very open about it and we’re going to have a very good relationship with our Iowa team.

As a part owner, was it harder for Saunders to agree to a $60 million contract for Pekovic?

No. Listen, I knew one thing coming into this whether you’re a coach, president or owner: Good players are going to get paid. More than likely, the teams that have the highest payrolls are the teams that happen to win. You’ve got to choose the right guys. You want to be sure they have a certain skill. Pek can score on the block, he’s got great strength and he can rebound. I don’t think those things are going to change.

Which sort of ties into what Saunders says about the team they built — remember they added Kevin Martin and essentially get Kevin Love and Chase Budinger back after missing much of the season injured (plus Ricky Rubio is fully healthy).

I don’t think we have any needs. Right now, talking to Rick (Adelman, the coach), we feel comfortable with the roster we have. Not only is it balanced, but we feel we have talent at every position. I’ve talked a lot about this team and there are pretty good players out there we don’t even talk about right now: Derrick Williams, J.J. Barea, Dante Cunningham. When you put all those guys together with who we’ve added, you’ve got to feel comfortable.

I think Minnesota moves up into the West playoffs next season, likely as the 6/7/8 seed. This is a good and deep team that needs to gel but has an elite coach. Sleep on Minnesota at your own risk.

Latest Posts
  1. World Cup Day 1 roundup: Brazil with big win, Andray Blatche puts on a show

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT

    Raul Togni Neto, Nicolas Batum Raul Togni Neto, Nicolas Batum

    Andray Blatche had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Philippines, and they still lost.

  2. Manu Ginobili gets statue of himself in Argentina

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    The statue is in Buenos Aires, in case you were looking to travel to get your picture with it.

  3. Brook Lopez confident he’ll be better than ever

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    That’s a higher bar than most realize

  4. USA cruises past Finland in World Cup opener, 114-55

    Aug 30, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis, Teemu Rannikko Anthony Davis, Teemu Rannikko

    Klay Thompson scored 18 points and Anthony Davis had 17 points on the night. Finland had great fans, though.

  5. Nik Stauskas makes 15 consecutive 3-pointers in 47 seconds (video)

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    Kings rookie rookie honing his 3-point Shootout skills

  6. John Calipari on Anthony Davis: “In five years, he could be the best player in the NBA”

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Fa14_BB_WBF_Images_Ash_ANTHONY_DAVIS_2_32057

    Will Davis be better than LeBron and Durant in five years? I’ll say this — he’ll be on that level.

  7. 76ers second rounder Jordan McRae signs in Australia

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Jordan McRae Jordan McRae

    Former Tennessee guard, drafted No. 58, will help Philadelphia tank from afar

  8. Goran Dragic’s brother, Zoran, getting interest from Pacers

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    BASKET-EURO-2013-SLO-FRA BASKET-EURO-2013-SLO-FRA

    Other NBA teams also watching Slovenia closely in World Cup to assess Zoran

  9. World Cup Preview: USA vs. Finland, what to expect

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Finland isn’t as good as the teams the USA was destroying in tune ups.

  10. Reports: Spurs making run at Ray Allen, who remains undecided if he will play anywhere

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability Getty Images

    He can decide this summer, or he can wait and join a team mid-season. There is no rush.

  11. James Harden on Kobe Bryant return: “He’s 20-year-old Kobe”

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers

    “We talk and he’s ready. He’s 20-year-old Kobe. It’s going to be a crazy environment.” — James Harden on Kobe Bryant

  12. Record 45 current NBA players to compete in FIBA World Cup

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol (R) watch as th Getty Images

    Tournament features a record 75 players who have played in the NBA at some point, and we have the complete list.

  13. Chris Paul discusses his signature shoe, hoops with media at launch of his Jordan Brand CP3 VIII (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    101_Chris Paul Unveils Jordan CP3.VIII

    Chris Paul is way more into sneakers than you are, and articulated it well at the launch of his latest signature shoe in New York earlier this week.

  14. Report: Spurs interested in Mexico’s Gustavo Ayon

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    ayon bucks Getty Images

    Ayon has played for four teams in three NBA seasons, and currently only has offers to play overseas next year.

  15. Iman Shumpert scares people (video)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza

    Knicks wing acts as security guard in prank

  16. 67RIEFNS No. 1: Tom Thibodeau managing his bigs

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bulls have Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2862)
  2. K. Love (2760)
  3. K. Bryant (2384)
  4. L. James (2275)
  5. C. Delfino (2153)
  1. T. Mozgov (2027)
  2. R. Allen (2005)
  3. K. Irving (1847)
  4. D. Waiters (1794)
  5. A. Davis (1754)