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Sam Deserved Better

Fired before the season ended. He couldn’t even enjoy the win without the vultures circling. Sam was wronged.

Sports Haiku:
He filled in as asked.
He leads this young squad to wins.
Why punish him so?

Look, I’m no fool. I get it. Sam Mitchell was a caretaker; He took over when a death in the family changed everything. Flip announced he was fighting cancer and has to focus on that.

So the organization asked Sam to step in. In September, he was labeled “interim” head coach and stayed “interim” for the entire season. Yes, the entire season. So it was clear there was no long-term promise.

So Sam stayed interim until the last game of the season. Oddly enough, the team was informed before the final game. #TooSoon?

So what did Sam do? He kept the team going. He led a team to 29 wins (one less than the final opponent, New Orleans). With so much youth, they overachieved to me. Sam was the ‘interim’ for too long. In short, he did his part. He earned a proper thank you.

Instead, he’s told to walk away and the players are told as well.

This is a young squad. These are kids playing a man’s game. And yes, these kids are becoming solid men. They are learning the Association and the Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to create a solid foundation for the future. #DontMessWithThem

So before these young players go home – many of whom liked Sam – why would you put a bad taste in their mouth by firing Sam before the season is even over? Is that how you treat someone who worked for you? For me, it’s too soon for a team that competed on many nights. Compare the Wolves to other building teams and you can clearly see the Wolves are indeed on the rise.

Let me be clear – I’m not saying the Wolves needed to keep Sam. I’m saying the timing was poor. It feels rushed and disrespects everyone involved. The move disrespects Sam who did his job. I’m more worried that it sets a horrible example for the future head coach and sends the players a clear message. Thanks, but “buh-bye” is not a message to tell a twenty-one-year-old player. #IsThatHowYouTreatGuysYouLike?

Look, I completely understand it’s “business”, but since everyone is in the “business”, there has to be something that makes your franchise special & attractive. Firing your interim coach before the final game is not classy. Having it leak pre-game also makes me wonder. And when the owner doesn’t attend the game, I have to wonder how much the organization cares. Don’t you think the players wonder the same thing?

I pay careful attention and I believe the Wolves need to be attractive to free agent players and coaches. The Wolves are smaller market, but a great place to live. We have a winter people fear so we often overpay for free agents. I think you can balance the negatives with good ownership & good culture #YeahImNaive

The Wolves’ head coaching position has to be appealing. I know Sam is well compensated for his trouble, but as an incoming Coach, do I wonder if I, too, will be getting the same Sam treatment? If I have a choice of positions, why sign up for the Sam treatment? #ClassyIsGoodRecruiting

But what I see is a jerk move & I expect more from Flip’s team. I expect more than people that spend all year wearing “WE” shirts. “WE” means “WE” finish the season. “WE” finish what we started and “WE” talk afterward. #WeExpectBetter

I’d be fine if we enjoyed the 144 points and the victory. Then, today (the day after the season), the Wolves can meet, talk to Sam about the future changing, and everything can happen today. You ask the players to stay in town one more day (if they didn’t already) and you talk about wanting a new coach for the future.

Since no one was hired today. I would say the Wolves gained nothing by “pre-firing” Sam. In fact, I noticed George Karl was let go today. One day after their final game. It can be done.

Yes, the building blocks are in place, but to build something special, you have to do it right.