Sam Mitchell joined Doogie Wolfson on his Podcast and didn’t shy away from his disgust of how he was treated by the Timberwolves organization. He was fired right at the end of the season over the phone by Glen Taylor, which did not leave Mitchell happy. Mitchell noted the 13 years he has spent with the Timberwolves as a player and coach as to how he deserved more than a phone call. He also was let down that Tom Thibodeau didn’t call since they have ties from the inaugural season when Mitchell was a player and Thibs was a coach.
Mitchell has every right to be upset. Whether or not he has spent 13 years or not, the way he was fired was unprofessional and unacceptable. I think out of respect, his 13 years warranted him at least an interview for the position. He started the season bad and don’t think he deserved the job for this upcoming season, but he did make some significant changes over the year. He also took over a very difficult situation, a situation that has maybe Never happened before in the NBA. How Glen Taylor has handled this was absolutely wrong and is the reason many alumni of the organization are not fond of the team after they leave.
Glen Taylor doesn’t feel like he cares about the relationships that were built when a player or coach leaves a team. This is why Kevin Garnett at one point was not a fan of Minnesota in his Boston days. Kevin McHale also didn’t leave on good terms. It is a part of the business of basketball, but it has to be handled better. Glen Taylor burns bridges because he knows he has the money to rebuild them if he wants to later.
This leads me to believe that the dream of Kevin Garnett being a part of this organization long term won’t happen. It sounds like the situation with KG is already on thin ice and he doesn’t seem happy. Garnett is in a tough position and probably doesn’t have a roster spot carved out for him like he has for his entire career. I don’t have the faith in Glen Taylor to remedy that.
Back to Sam Mitchell. In the interview, Mitchell made a few mistakes. He attempted to take credit for the improvement of players over the course of the season, which I don’t think he can credit himself fully. He took credit for Karl-Anthony Towns’ unanimous Rookie of the Year award because he didn’t make him play under the basket. Had Mitchell let Towns play the minutes he deserved early on in the season, there is a good change Towns would’ve been an All-Star his rookie year.
He then went on to note Wiggins 4 point jump in points per game was historic. He asked how many players have jumped 4 points from one season to the next. I accidentally laughed out loud at work. You actually don’t have to look far. Shabazz Muhammad jumped nearly 10 points from his rookie to sophomore year. Zach LaVine also added 4 points to his average. So to answer Sam’s question, it is pretty common, and maybe below expectations that Wiggins jumped 4 points per game.
Sam then was upset about the criticism he received around how he handled Zach LaVine at point guard. He said he just wanted to get Zach on the court. The problem there is that Zach was named the starter in the preseason, struggled, and then made the backup point guard. He was clearly struggling at point guard and everyone in the country was noticing how much better of a player he was playing alongside Ricky Rubio.
Sam then almost took credit for Shabazz Muhammad’s improvements. I accidentally laughed out loud again. Shabazz had the best season of his career in his season season when he posted smaller guys and drove passed bigger ones. He was hustling on the boards and shooting much better from 3. A lot of us expected a big season from Shabazz and were left disappointed because Mitchell didn’t know how to incorporate him into the scheme.
That was a small part of the interview. Sam then was very upset about about how Scott Layden called a month and a half later. He then mentioned that he hung up in Scott’s face. I thought that was interesting.