Report: Sam Mitchell relieved of coaching duties, search begins for new leadership

sam mitchell

Well, today’s been quite a day.

This was where we began, at 1:32 PM CST:

This is nine hours later, courtesy of Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press:

In between, the Wolves’ plan trickled out slowly, and to several different reporters. An hour and a half later, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Wolves were set to have an open search, with Sam Mitchell included in the interview process. Dawn Mitchell (no relation) of Fox 9 reported that the search would NOT include Sam Mitchell, and that it would focus exclusively on external candidates. And finally, sometime in the fourth quarter of the Wolves’ blowout win, the A.P. Sports Guy tied up all the loose ends.

Korn Ferry, which I have been told is NOT a leisure cruise line specializing in party boats for fans of the 1990s rock band, but instead a top-notch search firm, will lead the Wolves’ effort to find a new coach and President of Basketball Operations. Less than an hour after the game, Mitchell was relieved of his duties, per a team statement. Jon’s updated story clarifies that Milt Newton will not be considered as the permanent P.O.B.O., meaning the Wolves will be with entirely new basketball operations leadership next season.

That was apparently news to Sam Mitchell, who told the assembled media after the game that he planned to take a few weeks off before beginning draft preparation, as his contract expired on June 30th. So much for that; if Mitchell was in the know, he didn’t let on. If he wasn’t, that’s some bush-league nonsense; it’s a damn shame that the Wolves’ organization leaked all this before the Wolves’ final game of the season.

But the fact remains that Glen Taylor, an owner notorious for sticking to people he knows and taking the path of least resistance, diverted from more than 20 years of modus operandi and made the cold, savvy, calculated decision to try to find the right person, previous ties and familiarity be damned. I am, quite frankly, stunned at his pragmatism.

More to follow from all of us in the coming days, I’m sure.

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11 Responsesso far.

  1. jumbob says:

    I’m sorry. I disagree with the bush league comment. They were supposed to tell him he was out before he coached the last game. If anything I am surprised by how cut throat this is. It is remarkably like the way the rest of the major league teams handle coaching replacements. If anything even more agressive. In the NFL, they have Black Monday, where coaches are informed within 24 hours of the final game. Here they told him an hour after his last game. That’s how major leagues work. If he’s on his way out, you don’t tell him any of your plans, lest you tip your hand. There were already enough things slipping out. Don’t tell him anything directly until after his last game and you’re ready to make it official. He’s in a hard enough position already. Saying something in advance would be bush league.

  2. gjk says:

    Search firms make me nervous but not as nervous as Taylor and his unnamed associates making the choice themselves. Taylor also seemed to walk back the notion that Milt would have the summer to show what he could do; neither of those are a good look for him, and I just hope it doesn’t affect interest by the top candidates. I think Taylor still believes that Kaplan buying in is a possibility and that this change in course was influenced by their conversations.

    Kevin Arnovitz’s stories on the top candidates both this year ( and past seasons are a must-read for anyone who wants to have an informed opinion. I hope more fans want that instead of just obsessing over Izzo and Thibs. For example, the article mentions Jarron Collins, not Luke Walton, as the most appealing Warriors assistant. Their goal can’t just be to win the press conference, and I hope they cast a wide net. We all know about the warts of Thibs, Brooks, and JVG. It’s not clear if Izzo can adapt to the NBA, Tony Bennett has been playing the slow down system that works much better with a 35-second shot clock than a 24-second one, and so many others win because of their recruiting more than their coaching.

    • Mebert says:

      It does not say Collins is more appealing than Walton. Walton was not eligible for the list because he had the interim HC tag applied to him while Kerr was gone.

      • gjk says:

        “Luke Walton is among the hottest prospects for a permanent head job (his stint as interim head coach in Oakland disqualifies him from our list), but those in the know say that Collins’ was one of the big brains behind the Warriors’ early-season run during Steve Kerr’s absence.” Maybe it was an overstatement, but that’s picking nits. The overall point is that it’s easy to want Walton even though Collins could be just as good as or better than Walton, and it’s an example of how the best option might not be the popular one.

        • Wonzi Bells says:

          Yeah, I always love reading those annual Arnovitz’ coaching candidates profiles. Makes you get an insight into the background of assistants on NBA benches. Last couple of years, I grown fond of Kenny Atkinson in Atlanta and David Vanterpool in Portland, who were past lists. Also, like Andy Enfield in USC and Larry Krystkowiak in Utah. Honestly, I prefer offensive coaches who are tough-minded like Jeff Hornacek. If he can get back his defensive assistant in Mike Longabardi and re-make their 2014 Suns success in Minnesota with a higher upside, I’d like that.

  3. Mark Snyder (@snyde043) says:

    Jerry Zgoda reported that Mitchell was informed yesterday morning that Taylor planned to do a coaching search, so he apparently knew and didn’t let on.

  4. Ryan Fortson says:

    I think the question is whether Mitchell thought he was going to be included in the search. Sam did make comments indicating he knew a search was coming, but also stated he felt confident he was the best candidate.I am glad (and a bit surprised) that Taylor and the Wolves are moving on from Sam, but if Taylor indicated to Sam in the morning that he would be a candidate for the head coaching position and then backed down from it by the evening, that would be very bad form indeed. By all indications, Sam is a good guy that was thrust into a very difficult situation. He deserved to be treated more honestly than that.

  5. pyrrol says:

    I think rather than gloating or analyzing every coaching candidate out there I will just add I’m pleasantly surprised the the Wolves are being so proactive. I was very concerned they’d just shrug and go with the known commodity. And I at least thought they’d hold us in suspense by including Sam in the search or waiting to announce they were searching until later.

    I guess there will be time to pour over every coaching option later. Right now I’m just taking this in. I have a sort of zen feeling about it, because most of the names being batted around are coaches who are more skilled than Mitchell. Two things I will say of Sam–he eventually got better as a coach (but still far below what we need) and the players seem to like him (ironic, because of his fondness for throwing players under the bus a pressers without ever admitting he could have done better). He tried. But despite the excuses of the season’s circumstances, our youth, and evidence of him finally catching on to some basic things (LaVine is a shooting guard) I just don’t think he did enough to prove that he deserves to be a head coach here or anywhere. And it’s not like he didn’t have some things to work with to prove himself. I have to sometimes look back and remember all the bad things he did this season as a coach, and how dismal our January was. It’s nice we finished the season like we should have been preforming most of it, but in the end I think the best professional decision was made–move on. Sam was good for the young guys in that he’s a hands on detail guy with lots of player experience (who the players clearly related to) but not a system or concept guy. The guys were used to working with him on a lot of details last year, and it helped them get through the tough loss we had to have this guy they had a good working relationship with coach in the interim. It also explains the player loyalty to him some. I can appreciate that well still feeling Sam is not a good head coach over all and not what we need moving forward. The search should be interesting.

    I just read that the NBA is going to allow ads on jerseys starting in 2017-18 (‘sponsorship logos’ why do multi million dollar businesses need sponsors?). I find this offensive. There is a certain respect for the game that this violates. A uniform is the work clothes of these guys, and represents as city, state or region that the team plays in. We should have too much respect for what these guys do on the court to plaster ads on them. We should have too much respect for where we live to plaster ads on uniforms that represent our areas. Is there no end to the suffocating greed? The article says this: ‘Commissioner Adam Silver had said going with logos was inevitable because of the potential to add revenue. WNBA teams already have logos, and NBA clubs were wearing them on practice jerseys.’ So, because something could possibly make rich people more money it is ‘inevitable’? And comparing the NBA to the WNBA (as though the WNBA is ahead of the curve and the NBA needs to follow) is crazy. The WNBA barely can turn a profit in most markets. It’s lost a lot of teams. The NBA is doing very well, and already making a lot of people a lot of money.

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