The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

2 people with knowledge of the situation to AP: Wolves get permission to interview Joerger

  • Print

MINNEAPOLIS - With the Memphis Grizzlies front office in turmoil, the Minnesota Timberwolves are strongly considering hiring coach Dave Joerger away to take over the team in his home state.

The Timberwolves received permission from the Grizzlies to interview Joerger and will meet with him on Thursday, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The people requested anonymity because the Timberwolves are not commenting publicly on their coaching candidates, but all indications were that Joerger was in the driver's seat to replace the retired Rick Adelman.

Joerger, who is from Staples, Minnesota, and went to college at Division-II Minnesota State, Moorhead, went 50-32 in his first season as Grizzlies coach. After a rough start while the team transitioned from coaching veteran Lionel Hollins to the first-timer Joerger, the Grizzlies pulled together, overcame several injuries to key players and surged to the seventh seed in the hyper-competitive Western Conference.

But after pushing the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games before losing in the first round, owner Robert Pera made the surprising decision to overhaul the front office. He fired CEO Jason Levien and director of player personnel Stu Lash, two moves that immediately called into question Joerger's job security.

Joerger goes way back with Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders. As a young coach trying to make his way up the ladder, Joerger came to watch Saunders, who coached the Timberwolves from 1995-2005, run practices. The two formed a mutual respect which lasts to this day.

"The Timberwolves are the only NBA team of the 30 in the league that are in his home state and after having a long and honest conversation with Dave, he felt he owed it to his family, which resides entirely in Minnesota ... and we felt we owed it to Dave to at least have a discussion in this regard," Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told ESPN 92.9 FM in Memphis.

Asked if that was best for the Grizzlies, Wallace said he didn't see anything wrong with granting Joerger the chance to talk.

"He's just been granted permission to talk and will do so soon," said Wallace, who has assumed interim watch over the basketball operations while Pera restructures the front office.

Saunders, who coached in the CBA before breaking into the NBA, has long had an affinity for coaches who had to grind it out in the minor leagues, believing they learn not only how to coach, but to run an organization. Joerger won championships in the NBDL, the International Basketball Association and the CBA before joining the Grizzlies as an assistant to Hollins.

Joerger's experience as a head coach last year with the Grizzlies helps him fit the profile Saunders is looking for in a replacement for Adelman. Saunders has said he wants a proven coach who knows the demands of running an NBA team, including handling questions from the media.

The latter qualification is of particular concern for the Wolves right now with star forward Kevin Love set to opt out of his contract after next season. The Wolves are considering all their options with Love, including potentially trading him this summer.

If the Wolves do not trade Love, they will head into the season with one of the major story lines in the league, one sure to draw attention from media all across the country. That's part of the reason Saunders is reluctant to turn over the keys to a first-time head coach.

The Timberwolves opening has also been linked to Hollins and college coaching stars such as Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Florida's Billy Donovan and Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg. Saunders has yet to offer the job to anyone, but it is believed that the uncertainty surrounding Love has caused some of the more high profile names on Saunders' list to give tepid responses to inquiries.

The situation with Love in Minnesota pales in comparison to the upheaval in Memphis, and the opportunity to bring his family back to his home state could be enough to convince Joerger to make the move from a team that was in the Western Conference finals two years ago to a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2004.

___

AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

___

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

O'Shea says the team is going to stick to the plan after first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Water lilys are reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who are the real Bombers?

View Results

Ads by Google