May 3, 2013 / 9:39 PM / 6 years ago

Saunders returns to Timberwolves as head coach

Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders reacts after a foul is called against his team in the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Massachusetts November 17, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) - Flip Saunders returned to the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves as head coach on Friday, eight years after he was sacked from the same job.

Saunders, who has also been head coach with the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, was appointed on a five-year deal in place of David Kahn, who was fired on Thursday.

“I’ve made a lot of great decisions in my life, and a lot of things in business that have worked well,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told reporters before introducing Saunders, who has been given a minority ownership stake in the franchise.

“Occasionally I’ve made a wrong decision and perhaps supporting Flip leaving our organization as coach is one of those things I’ve done wrong.

“But in the meantime, Flip has gone out and stayed in the NBA, coached for some other teams ... I just think that he can bring that as part of his overall philosophy back to our organization and make it a better organization.”

Minnesota finished the 2012-13 season fourth-last in the 15-team Western Conference after posting a 31-51 record.

They have not reached the playoffs since the 2003-04 season when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

“There’s no question that there’s a lot of work ahead with this team,” said Saunders, 58. “And what I mean by that is that when a team has been to the lottery for eight straight years and won 31 games, you have work to do.

“So we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and do that, but that’s what Minnesota people do. Now we have talent, we have some good young talent but they by far have not reached their potential.”

Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue

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