On Wednesday morning the Minnesota Timberwolves announced that they would be moving forward with a search for a president of basketball operations. The Wolves will be filling the void that’s been there since the team fired Tom Thibodeau in January.
This time — unlike last — the Wolves will not be using a search firm. It will be up to Glen Taylor to find and hire the right candidate. Here are nine names that would make sense to fill the opening the Wolves have. Some of them may be more difficult to hire than others, but they’re worth the phone call.
Zarren has been with the Celtics for now 14 years and is currently the team’s assistant general manager. His name has been brought up in consideration for a couple general manager openings – including the current ones in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. – over the past couple of seasons. At 43 years old he’s young for a potential president of basketball operations, but the Wolves seem willing to accept the age if he’s the right guy, as they did when handing Ryan Saunders the interim job.
Zarren started his career as an unpaid intern with the Celtics and worked his way up to where he is now. That means he’s worked alongside some of basketball’s finer minds such as Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, and Brad Stevens.
Weaver is currently the vice president of basketball operations in Oklahoma City. He’s been with the Thunder for the past 10 seasons and served as the assistant general manager for the first seven of them.
Plucking an employee from Oklahoma City would be a good idea for the Wolves. That franchise has been almost the model franchise in terms of front office structure. Aside from losing Kevin Durant and trading James Harden (OK, at least they did get Steven Adams here), the Thunder have done almost everything correctly. They essentially turned Serge Ibaka into Paul George via trades over the course of a couple seasons, and then got George to re-sign this past summer. Oklahoma City has done almost everything correctly, and would it not be for some bad injury luck, they may have had more postseason success.
Winger currently serves as the general manager of the LA Clippers. He was hired prior to the 2017-18 season after working with the Thunder from 2010 until 2017. Like Zarren, Winger is among the younger candidates as he has yet to turn 40 years old.
It’s enticing to look at teams that have both been successful and had to use creative avenues to become successful. The Clippers are just that. Since the end of the 2017 season, the Clippers have traded their best player three times. First, they dealt Chris Paul to Houston, then they traded Blake Griffin to Detroit, and then they traded Tobias Harris to Philadelphia this winter. Yet, they still made the playoffs.
This type of creativity in roster building should be a very enticing reason to have interest in hiring Winger as the head of the organization.
This one may be shooting for the stars a bit, but that’s what this is for. It’s difficult to find a current general manager with a better track record than Myers. He’s the man that’s helped to build the Golden State Warriors into what they are today.
Myers was hired after serving as a sports agent for Wasserman Media Group for the previous five years, in addition to the nine other years as a sports agent.
Myers wouldn’t be able to bring Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green with him should he take a job as president of basketball operations in Minnesota – or anywhere else, for that matter – but he would be able to bring a strong track record of culture and team building along with his championship experience. It’s hard to imagine the Warriors letting him walk in any scenario, though.
Barry currently serves as the vice president of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs, where he spent four years of his 14-year playing career. Barry has been with the Spurs as a front office member this past September in this role. Prior to that he worked for TNT as a broadcaster.
His limited experience as a front office member could be a red flag, but Barry would be able to bring both championship experience and comes from the best culture in the NBA.
Griffin is currently working for NBATV and doing some radio work for SiriusXM NBA. He’s most well-known as the architect of the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Griffin was viewed in Cleveland as someone that built up the trust of LeBron James and was able to pull off deals to help build the Cavs.
He left Cleveland following the 2017 season after he and owner Dan Gilbert were unable to agree on a new contract or position for him. He would be able to bring championship experience to an organization that has none of it.
Zanik is currently serving in Utah as an assistant general manager and has helped to build that team the right way. The Jazz are a model franchise for how to build a team without totally bottoming out – something the Wolves could use some help with.
Over the past few years Zanik has been in consideration for a couple of jobs as general manager – both with Philadelphia and Milwaukee. There’s no reason for the Wolves to not give him a call.
Rosas is a member of a very forward-thinking front office in Houston. Anyone that’s been associated with Daryl Morey should be talked to. Rosas has been a member of the Rockets front office for over 15 years and could help to further the way the game is played in Minnesota, just like the staff there in Houston has changed things.
Sheppard is currently the interim president of basketball operations in Washington after the Wizards parted ways with Ernie Grunfeld earlier this season. Sheppard has 25 years of experience in the NBA and the last 16 have been spent with Washington.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s out of a job in a few weeks when the Wizards make their hire. Sheppard has plenty of experience helping to run a team, and could be an option in Minnesota.
Billups has spent the past few seasons working for ESPN doing TV work, and in the opinion of this author he’s relatively good at it. Billups is also a person Taylor would be comfortable hiring — which absolutely may matter.
He doesn’t have front office experience, but has taken interviews for openings, including being a finalist for the general manager position with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2017. The former member of the Wolves could make sense as a candidate, but putting a former player with no experience in this role would certainly be a risk.