Wolves closer to hiring Dave Joerger

ByMarc Stein ESPN logo
Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Minnesota Timberwolves have made "significant progress" in their attempt to hire Dave Joerger away from the Memphis Grizzlies to be their new coach, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that although compensation details with the Grizzlies have to be worked out, Minnesota's fast-moving bid to make Joerger its next coach is gathering momentum.

The Wolves are restricted to offering draft picks and/or cash to Memphis to free Joerger from his contract with the Grizzlies. But one source said Thursday that Joerger landing in his home state with the Wolves is "the way this thing is headed."

Joerger met with Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders on Thursday and is scheduled to meet with owner Glen Taylor at some point this weekend, according to The Associated Press. If Joerger makes a good impression with Taylor and the Timberwolves and Grizzlies can come to some sort of agreement on compensation to get him out of his contract, all signs point to Joerger replacing the retired Rick Adelman.

Earlier this week the Grizzlies granted the Wolves permission to  interview Joerger in the wake of a management shakeup that resulted in the twin ousters of Memphis CEO Jason Levien and assistant general manager Stu Lash.

ESPN.com reported Monday that one of the triggers in the breakdown between Grizzlies owner Robert Pera and Levien -- who helped broker Pera's purchase of the team from the late Michael Heisley in June 2012 -- centered on Pera's dissatisfaction with Joerger. Sources say Pera contemplated firing Joerger early in his first season but was ultimately talked out of it, after which Memphis rallied from a slow start and Marc Gasol's knee injury to win 50 games and finish seventh in the hypercompetitive West.

Joerger is a proud Minnesota native with long-standing ties to Wolves president and part-owner Flip Saunders, having relied on Saunders as a mentor when he broke into coaching.

Joerger and former Wolves forward Sam Mitchell have been widely identified as Saunders' top two candidates in the wake of Minnesota's unsuccessful attempts to persuade any of a trio of marquee college coaches -- Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg or Florida's Billy Donovan -- to show interest in the job.

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