Wolves’ coaching-search list narrows

Michigan State's Tom Izzo (pictured) and Florida's Billy Donovan top the pool of collegiate possibilities for being the Timberwolves' next head coach, while George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Lionel Hollins and Jerry Sichting remain in play.

Brian Spurlock/Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Good luck wading through the swamp of smoke and mirrors surrounding the Timberwolves’ fledgling coaching search.

But the list already has narrowed considerably.

In the past four days, president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has cut down the field by at least two. Monday, he told a local radio station Iowa State head man Fred Hoiberg is out of the question.

Then, Wednesday morning, the former Timberwolves coach himself said he probably won’t be the one to take over for retired Rick Adelman.

"I don’t really see that scenario," Saunders told ESPN Radio’s "Mike and Mike" show Wednesday. "I know it’s been brought up a lot, and you never say never, but we have a lot of things going on here.

"I’ve got a lot on my plate, and that’s enough to deal with right now."

In addition to what Saunders promised will be an "extensive" coaching search, that helping includes Kevin Love’s contract situation, a possible extension for Ricky Rubio, the construction of the team’s new practice facility and more than $100 million worth of Target Center renovations.

But none are mutually exclusive from the hunt for Adelman’s successor. High on Saunders’ priority list is making moves that might convince Kevin Love to stick around the Twin Cities; he has an option on his contract for 2015-16 and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He also has an extension to negotiate with Rubio and agent Dan Fegan, lest the point guard play out the final year of his contract and become a restricted free agent next summer.

Furthermore, upgrades such as the Mayo Clinic Square practice and sports medicine complex and the Target Center’s facelift can help attract the best coaching candidate possible.

With Saunders and Hoiberg — "that’s not happening," Saunders said in relation to the former Timberwolves player, assistant and front-office member on WCCO-AM — essentially out of the picture, the projected list of candidates has shrunk. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Florida’s Billy Donovan top the pool of collegiate possibilities, while George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Lionel Hollins and Jerry Sichting remain in play on the NBA-experience side of things.

All but Sichting have been a head coach in the NBA.

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