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But many league observers believed better days were right around the corner for a seemingly cursed franchise.

“The team has been headed in the right direction and will continue to be headed in the right direction,” Kahn said. “I think this team will be a force to be reckoned with for many years. It’s young. It’s deep. It’s talented. It simply needs to become healthy again.”

One of Kahn’s biggest difficulties was connecting with those who worked with and for him. Some coaches, players and other team employees were turned off by Kahn’s aloof disposition, an approach that inspired little support for him in the organization.

“I’ve taken a lot of bullets for the team and will continue to do so,” Kahn said. “I’m happy to do it. That’s what we’re hired to do. I don’t want to make it about myself.”

Going back to Saunders marks a return to the only truly competitive seasons the Timberwolves have had since coming into the NBA in 1989. He is the only coach to lead the team to the playoffs, but was fired the season after leading the Wolves to the Western Conference finals. That’s the last time the Wolves have been to the postseason, the longest active drought in the NBA.

Saunders also coached in Detroit in Washington. The former University of Minnesota point guard still lives in the area and remained close with Taylor even after a difficult split with the organization.


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