PLYMOUTH, Minn.-- Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t feel the need to lobby Gersson Rosas in favor of Ryan Saunders during the Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coaching search a couple months ago.
Because, Towns thought, the decision was “more of a no-brainer.”
“The talent he possesses as a coach and as a motivator and as a communicator, I think he’s the best communicator in all the NBA,” Towns said in an interview with WCCO Radio anchor Cory Hepola from his ProCamp for kids on Thursday, July 18, in Plymouth. “And what he showed every day is amazing.”
Saunders, of course, got the full-time job, giving Towns a coach he feels is “going to allow me to use all my talent.”
The two-time all-star center, who signed a five-year max extension last summer that kicks in this fall, is pleased with the current state of the Wolves’ basketball operations as a whole. He told Hepola he’s “very blessed” to have the front office currently in Minnesota.
“I have a great coaching staff,” Towns told Hepola. “I think we have the best coaching staff in, possibly, the game right now, from the talent, experience and culture standpoint.”
The latter is particularly important to the center. He said the culture the Wolves are building is “something special,” and believes it will serve newcomers such as rookies Jarrett Culver and Jaylen Nowell well.
“I want to make sure that they develop not only as players, but as human beings and as men,” Towns told Hepola. “That’s what we’re here to do in Minnesota.
“One of the biggest things with Ryan and with me is we have to make sure our culture is not just focused on basketball. This is a family atmosphere. Everything we do here in Minnesota has to be with a family backing and a family thought process and building people’s personalities, characters and showing them more of themselves than the orange basketball can show you.”
Towns made that sound like a different culture than the one Minnesota possessed under the previous regime, when Tom Thibodeau ruled the basketball operations department.
Towns didn’t think that situation “would’ve been very beneficial” for incoming young players.
“That’s a disrespect and a slap in the face to their development,” he said.
But things are changing, Towns said. He even thinks that was evident this offseason.
His good friend, all-star guard D’Angelo Russell, was Minnesota’s top target in free agency. Russell ultimately chose Golden State instead. No hard feelings about that, Towns swears.
“I’m happy for him, because he’s happy. This whole offseason, when you’re going through free agency and stuff, so many things are ungiven, and for him to come out with a great contract, first of all, to change his life and his family’s life forever, and his kid’s life, it’s a huge thing for me, because this goes farther than basketball,” Towns said.
“This is something we’re talking about where when I have my kids I want him to be their uncle, and when he has his kids, he wants me to be their uncle. This is deeper than basketball. This is family.”
But yes, Towns wanted Russell to come to Minnesota. He wanted to deliver this community with a trio — in Russell, Towns and Andrew Wiggins — that he felt fans hadn’t seen here since the days of Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell.
Perhaps the Jimmy Butler season already has escaped Towns’ memory.
Regardless, Towns thinks the fact Russell considered the Wolves at all represents a shift.
“I think that what the Wolves fans are seeing now is that people they felt were untouchable to come to Minnesota are now touchable, and the people that they think never would think of us are thinking,” Towns told Hepola.
“That’s because of our front office being so great with Gerss and everybody, our coach, Ryan Saunders, telling these players, and for the players to see a person they really want to play for in Ryan and just another testament to the talent we possess as a team.”