Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

Whatever you think of Sam Mitchell, the way the Wolves fired him was disrespectful

Sam Mitchell
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig
While we talk about the growth and maturation of cornerstone players such as Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the truth is that Sam Mitchell improved on the job as much as his young team.

After the Minnesota Timberwolves had gleefully caroused their way over the outmanned New Orleans Pelicans, 144-109, to close out the 2015-16 season Wednesday night, their poised and pleased head coach Sam Mitchell did not seem like a man who had just been cut loose by the franchise.

Indeed, as he had for the last month or so of the season, Mitchell lobbied to retain his job. He talked about the value of continuity in the NBA. His most emotional moments were reflecting on the passing of President of Basketball Operations and his predecessor as coach, Flip Saunders.

“We put together a video about the season and about coach and about what the season meant for us,” Mitchell said. “And under difficult circumstances how these guys came together and played together every night and how they bought into what we were selling…I’m proud of my coaches, proud of my players. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Lest there be any doubt, Mitchell’s closing words to the media Wednesday night were, “I am happy that Mr. Taylor gave me the opportunity under difficult circumstances; he could’ve done a lot of other things. Now I’ll just go through the process, and continue to work. I’m under contract I think until June 30 so we got draft work to do and things of that nature. I’ll take a few weeks off, like everybody. And then I’m sure you guys will see me around. I’ll be around until I hear, ‘Don’t come around no more.’”

Shortly after midnight, a press release landed in my email box, titled “Minnesota Timberwolves Launch Search for Head Coach and Head of Basketball Operations.” The first sentence stated that the team “announced that Sam Mitchell has been relieved of his interim head coaching duties, effective immediately.”

The press release went on to state that the Wolves had engaged a search firm, Korn Ferry, to fill the vacancies for head coach and President of Basketball Operations, the latter position filled this season by general manager Milt Newton. It pointedly noted that “the search will focus exclusively on candidates outside the current organization.”

Near the end of the release, Wolves owner Glen Taylor is quoted as saying “We will always be grateful to Sam for his contributions this season and wish him and his family the best in the future.”

The final paragraph reads, “The team’s search for these two basketball leadership positions will be wide-ranging and extensive. Milt Newton will continue to serve as General Manager as the new leadership team is assembled. No timeline has been set and no further updates will be provided until the conclusion of the searches.”

In other words, Sam Mitchell, “Don’t come around no more.”

Bait and switch

It is difficult not to feel conflicted by this latest turn of events.

Taylor has been notorious, and justly criticized, for overweening loyalty to the people he has hired, and for his stubborn refusal to depart from a familiar circle of people with ties to him and the organization. There is even a catchphrase, “the country club,” for his chummy insularity.

The latest apparent manifestation of this behavior occurred just last month, when Taylor announced during a radio interview that Newton would be in charge of the June draft and the July free agent process, an absolutely crucial period in the ongoing construction of the Wolves roster. With a number of big-name candidates for both the head coach and head of basketball operations positions currently on the sidelines, and yet sure to be attracted by the Wolves tantalizing collection of young talent, it felt like a missed opportunity.

Here is how I concluded a column about Taylor’s naming of Newton to run the franchise over the summer:

Does anyone who has watched Taylor in action over these decades seriously believe he will pull the plug on Newton because of a faulty process?

It seems pretty apparent that Milt Newton is on board for another year and only slightly less apparent that Mitchell will likewise be retained.

Let’s not pretend all options are being explored. Unless there is some sophisticated chessboard bait-and-switch totally at odds with the Taylor normally conducts his business, many significant options have already been foreclosed.

In fact, a “sophisticated chessboard bait-and-switch” is exactly what Taylor seems to have executed.

As a result, Milt Newton is no longer a candidate to become POBO of this team and is only assured of remaining General Manager as the search process unfolds. There is now a good chance he won’t be running the draft and free agency over the summer, and his future employment is apparently at the discretion of the person who is chosen to become President of Basketball Operations.

Mitchell’s termination is a less-blatant reversal — unlike Newton, Taylor never committed to keeping him on in his expanded interim position — but perhaps even more awkwardly executed.

The morning of Wednesday night’s finale against the Pelicans, the story began to break that Mitchell’s job was tenuous. ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted that there was “a rising belief in NBA coaching circles” that “Mitchell would be ousted.”

Then the reporter renowned for delivering swift and mostly reliable scoops on the NBA due to his extensive ties with agents and executives around the association, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, weighed in with his own very specific tweet: “Sources: Minnesota embarking on head coaching search that includes Sam Mitchell as part of the candidate process. List: Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks.”

The way Mitchell conducted himself immediately before and after the Pelicans game indicates that his perception of events mirrored that of Wojnarowski. How else to interpret statements like “I’ll just go through the process and continue to work,” and “I’m sure you’ll see me around”?

Star Tribune beat writer Jerry Zgoda has subsequently reported that “Taylor informed Mitchell during a 15-minute phone call that he will search for a new coach,” and that players were informed of that before the Pelicans game. The key point, yet to be determined, is whether or not Taylor explicitly told Mitchell he was no longer being considered for the job.

It wasn’t until the game was already underway that Fox 9 reporter Dawn Mitchell (no relation to the coach) who only tangentially covers the Wolves beat, was the first to report that Mitchell would not be included in the coaching search. Regular beat writers Zgoda and AP’s Jon Krawcyznski had details of the Korn Ferry search firm by then, but no specifics on Mitchell’s future.

Respecting Mitchell

Wojnarowski’s breaking news tweet made me feel much better about the operation of the Wolves. This new tack seemed to strike an ideal middle ground between immediately setting out to plumb the interest and solicit the strategies of high-profile candidates for the coaching position while granting Mitchell the respect of being included in the process.

Mitchell earned that respect this season. While we talk about the growth and maturation of cornerstone players such as Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns and the even more dramatic development of starters Gorgui Dieng and Zach LaVine, the truth is that Mitchell improved on the job as much as his young team.

He began the preseason openly mocking the notion that specific plays could be run to generate three-point shots. Perhaps that was in deference to Saunders, who disdained the trey and was still in a coma at the time. But although the Wolves finished next-to-last in three-point attempts (up from dead last under Saunders a year ago), their frequency rose dramatically over the course of the season, rising every month from January’s 14.8 attempts per game up to 20.6 attempts in April. In the finale, eight players made at least one three-pointer and the Wolves shot from 13-for-28 from distance overall.

Mitchell’s salty relations with the media and the general public likewise improved throughout the 2015-16 season. Mitchell came into the job under tragic and tumultuous circumstances, without a chance to install his own offense due to the uncertainty of Saunders’ health. What’s more, he had a chip on his shoulder from the harsh blowback he received from the analytic-friendly blogging community and fan base in his first attempt at the head job, which Saunders unsurprisingly claimed for himself anyway, naming Mitchell lead assistant.

Mitchell’s NBA career was built from scratching and clawing his way to relevance. He is a battler and a competitor who hates to lose and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Put it all together and he was too frequently a jerk who needlessly antagonized the people assigned to cover the team on a regular basis. It was a hard perception to erase and likely worked against him when toting up the reasons to keep him on the job. That said, Mitchell’s mien and ability to communicate strategy and analysis steadily improved over the course of the season.

Most notably, however, Mitchell made the Wolves better in a manner that enhanced the team’s prospects for the future. Ironically, it was on Groundhog Day when the Wolves were showing every indication of being the same bunch of dreadful underachievers that failed to make the playoffs for more than a decade, sitting with a record of 14-36.

But from February 2 through the finale on April 13, Minnesota was 15-17, an upgrade accomplished by relying on the young core of talent due to a bench stripped bare by injuries and buy-outs of veterans. Neither Kevin Garnett nor Nikola Pekovic played a minute during this span due to injury. Veterans Andre Miller and Kevin Martin played a grand total of 65 and 44 minutes, respectively, before being bought out in the course of those final 32 games.

Meanwhile, the Wolves surged on the strength of a starting lineup that included the magical rookie Towns, second-year players Wiggins and LaVine, 25-year old point guard Ricky Rubio and 26-year old, third-year forward Dieng. The bench unit was comprised third-year swingman Shabazz Muhammad, teenaged point guard Tyus Jones, D-League signee Greg Smith, inconsistent 27-year old rookie Nemanja Bjelica and aged veteran Tayshaun Prince on increasingly diminished minutes.

Mitchell coached that squad to a nearly .500 record over the final two months of the season. Sure, some of the victories came over opponents tanking for a better draft pick or wracked by injuries. But a significant number of wins were earned against quality opponents fighting for playoff position.

In his lobbying to retain his job, Mitchell was fond of saying these past few weeks that at the beginning of the season nobody regarded the task of coaching the Wolves as a desirable position. This is nonsense. Just two games into the season I was gushing that Towns’ “ceiling was too high for me to see,” and that the Wolves were about developing Towns and Wiggins as cornerstones using Rubio as the fulcrum. “If the fates and some far-sighted management enable the synchronized maturation of those three foundational pieces to happen, the rest is the easy part,” I wrote, adding that such an outcome “feels like more than a pipedream.” And I was hardly the only person with such an optimistic outlook for the future.

That said, the “far-sighted management” had more to do with Mitchell’s coaching than anyone else with influence over the roster. It can’t be emphasized enough that developing Towns and Wiggins was by far the top priority for this season. As it happens, Towns is a coach’s paradise, a phenomenally complete and consistent player with a “teacher’s pet” persona and bottomless desire.

Wiggins is more complicated; a quiet person whose stupendous athleticism is best engaged when the opponent or game-situation is at its most challenging; but who occasionally flags in his desire under more mundane circumstances.

Wiggins is also a person who doesn’t respond well to yelling and public displays of criticism, which happens to be a regular component of Mitchell’s coaching arsenal. But from Wiggins’ rookie year forward, Mitchell has always circumscribed that aspect of himself when dealing with the talented swingman. While Flip Saunders always wanted to give his son and assistant coach Ryan Saunders the most credit for grooming Wiggins during the 2014-15 season, anyone who kept their eyes open noticed that Mitchell was the go-to person on the coaching staff when the then-rookie needed instruction or advice.

That carried over into this season. The normally reticent Wiggins has been vocal in his praise of Mitchell’s coaching, both to Sports Illustrated writer Rob Mahoney and to local media in recent weeks. Given that Wiggins can declare for restricted free agency in just two more seasons, and become an unrestricted free agent after three years, getting a coach and a management team who can foster his ongoing development in a positive manner is perhaps the top priority for any new hires now under consideration.

Last but not least on this subject, Mitchell and Newton are both black. The majority of the players under their guidance this season were black. The owner is white, as are all of the major candidates being discussed to replace Mitchell and Newton. And the process by which Mitchell and Newton have been excised from the authority they held this past season has been disrespectful.

Some may think those distinctions are too simplistic and politically correct. I think those distinctions are highly relevant and noticed by members of the black community — fans, players, coaches, media — and others in Minnesota and throughout the United States in 2016. At the very least, those distinctions need to be acknowledged and factored in while determining the best way to move forward with this franchise. Ignorance isn’t bliss for anyone who cares about this team.

Obviously, Sam Mitchell isn’t coming back. And as I’ve written many times, I am not sure he is even the best person to coach the Wolves going forward. I endorse the hiring of a search firm and the need to get a head start on soliciting the high profile candidates. There is too much at stake not to explore every avenue in search of the best possible outcome. But, like the firing of Dwane Casey during the middle of the 2006-07 season, there is a chance that the Wolves will come to regret their decision to let Mitchell go.

Because the statute of limitations on unfulfilled promises, even with this beguiling collection of young players, is drawing to a close. The need to transform potential into tangible achievement begins in earnest next season. This is now a team that finished up the season 15-17 without a decent bench, and with a bunch of young players just learning to play with each other. They will own at worst a top-9 draft pick and have the resources to pursue quality free agents. Their future is tantalizing enough to garner a top-notch coach and personnel manager, and to avoid overpaying for solid role players.

We need only look at the recently completed season to realize how unpredictable fate can be. But barring any dramatic, currently unforeseen setbacks, it is reasonable to expect the 2016-17 Timberwolves to play .500 basketball and stay on the fringes of playoff contention — and to engage in some serious postseason play in the years to come.

This season began with the death of Flip Saunders and ended with the firing of Sam Mitchell. But there was a lot of good in between.

Update: My statements in Friday’s story regarding the reportorial time line on Mitchell’s ouster are inaccurate. I have subsequently learned that beat writer Jon Krawczynski of AP and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune both reported in the late afternoon that Mitchell was no longer being considered for rehire, and that the Wolves would focus exclusively on outside candidates for the head coach and basketball operations positions. On the television side, Dawn Mitchell of Fox News and Chris Long of KSTP, also reported details of Mitchell’s ouster before the game started.

This does not change the story’s narrative regarding Mitchell’s knowledge of his fate, which remains in dispute. But had I accurately tracked the time line of reports, I would have included a sentence stating that it was possible Mitchell knew of his fate before the game started.

What is not in dispute is that I failed to give due credit to the diligent reporting by those on the Wolves beat. I regret that error. —BR

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

About the Author:

Comments (18)

The future is now

I tend to think that Taylor was surprised by the reaction to his pronouncements regarding Newton and that he began to hear in his NBA owner circles about how attractive the Wolves job(s) would be and decided to change course.

As to whether or not it was disrespectful to Mitchell and Newton, I certainly think Newton has more of an argument on that point, given that he received more public assurances than Mitchell did (assuming of course, that Taylor was upfront with Mitchell in their conversation before the season finale). That said, it's not exactly unprecedented in sports history for the "vote of confidence" (such that it was in Newton's case) to prove fleeting.

With a critical offseason looming, Taylor needs to have people in place that he believes are long-term answers. I'm not one who buys into the notion that some have offered that you have a "development" coach to build the team and then you hand it over to the "closer" that gets you over the hump in the playoffs. And, even though it's not his fault, Milt Newton hasn't done anything to prove that he's definitely the right guy for the POBO job.

To me, Taylor's newfound aggressiveness on this front is encouraging (although the fact that a guy who's been a well-connected NBA owner for 20+ years can't put together his own list of candidates is distressing). As someone who sat in the Metrodome listening to Bill Musselman's play calls echo from the other side of the building, I'm glad to see that the decade-long effort to sell hope has finally turned into something approaching expectations that this team can and should do better.

Wolves Gotta Wolve

I can't get myself too worked up over this one. This franchise isn't good at much of anything. They've always been buffoons with this sort of public relations transaction (Kahn's end of the season presser before the final game is the classic of this genre).

Glen always says too much and a lot of it doesn't match what fans believe to be reality. They are the worst franchise (winning percentage, wise) in league history and the guy who owns them hires people hardly any other franchise employs or thinks about employing. Of course they were going to do something goofy with the way they let Smitch go. It's what they do. With everything.

I don't want to jinx it, but there are finally some signs that Glen has learned that hiring son-in-laws, former star local players, guys who won him over with in-depth 3-ring-binder presentations of outdated offenses, and David Stern-recommended heads of basketball operations are all terrible ideas. The quotes coming out about the need to find a front office/coaching continuum that is all on the same page are fantastic. Hopefully this will mean the end of Rob Moor. Hopefully this will mean the end of consulting with/hiring guys like Babcock or Stack or Sid Lowe or former coaches' sons or (on and on and on and on).

The real insult of this franchise is the comical way in which they've always conducted their business. From the top to the bottom, it is a 3rd division affair. And yes, that probably includes the way in which they let their 3rd division interim coach go. Hopefully this will be remedied over the summer with the hiring of new, modern NBA executives and coaches who are all on the same page and who don't have to play the Taylor Corp games that have dominated proceedings in the past.

They lucked into an all-time talent. They have another top pick and some additional resources to hopefully make a move or two to immediately bolster the starting lineup with 1-2 more 22-27 year old studs. People like Smitch and Milt and the entire coaching staff and whatever left-over consulting partners in the front office need to be escorted from the building as quickly as possible so the same mistakes made with KG and Love aren't made with KAT. He is all that matters. (Well, Ricky matters a little bit...let's say KAT/Ricky is 90/10.)

Get good front office help. Free Jimmy Butler. Onward, upward, and KATward.

totally legitimate take

Sean--

I actually agree with a lot of this and want to stress that I am not trying to damn the Wolves when they do and damn them when they don't.
I complained about Taylor not casting a wider net and do not think taking on Korn Ferry is a bad move. So it is a nuanced point. I just don't feel right about the way everything came down and also don't feel right about Mitchell not at least being in the mix. At very least he seemed a solid fall back option if things don't break well over the summer.

Mostly agree

Korn Ferry is a good move. Glen Taylor has shown he can't do this on his own.

I agree that Mitchell wouldn't be the worst as a fallback option, but from a practical perspective, I don't see how you go into this process with keeping Sam as the "break glass in case of emergency" option. It just sort of ratifies the fact that there's no real concern about someone else hiring him in the meantime.

Disagree

Getting fired is never fun, but there was nothing particulary egregious about what the Wolves did. It doesn't do Mitchell any good to pretend he is in the mix when he isn't - not being honest with him would have been truly disrespectful. What stings is that given the team's history and some late season success, it seemed like he would stay.

The reality is that Sam Mitchell is a lousy NBA coach. Its not just things like the lack of 3 pointers/too many long 2s, but his disdain toward analytics or any kind of modern thinking. Good coaches are often innovators and Mitchell is the farthest thing from. I put much more stock in half the team anonymously complaining about Mitchell than the recent on-the-record support. Seriously, who is going to rip their coach when asked?

Mitchell was given a great opportunity to coach a great young team and blew it in spectacular fashion. The fact that Glen Taylor recognizes Mitchell's failure should be cause for celebration and hope for Wolves fans.

We got better this year

From a player development perspective, I think this has been a fairly successful season. Coach Mitchell was a big part of that, and having guys like KG and the other vets on board helped with that too. Despite my personal appreciation for analytics, I still thought Mitchell did a fine job coaching this team and would have been fine with him coming back next year.

And maybe firing Mitchell is throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but I think Glen Taylor is demonstrating that he's "all-in" when it comes to making wholesale changes to this team. It's going to be far less comfortable for him than hiring Flip was, but if he's serious about "shedding the country club label" (and I feel like I've typed that phrase into the comment section of Britt Robson articles for at least 10 years now), then there's not really another option.

As for how it was done, I think that's all reading tea leaves at some point. As an outsider, it's hard to understand the relationships and dynamics that go into running a basketball franchise, so it's not my place to judge how this was handled without more information.

Over the phone is bothersome

As Zgoda reported, Taylor didn't even tell Mitchell face to face. It seems like Taylor's out of town on NBA business (I think), the information started to leak, and he ended up handling it poorly. The racial element is obviously interesting for a team who had a story written about how white they were in 2012 (no matter how ham-fisted that story seemed to be); for example, is it clear at all that Scott Brooks is a better coach than Mitchell (who didn't get the benefit of a training camp to install a system or ever had a young core in Toronto like Brooks did in OKC)?

The names to start with don't seem particularly innovative for a search firm; those are the names that any casual Wolves fan would probably start with. Nor should they assume they need to go with a name that wins the press conference and fast-tracks their road to the playoffs if it's going to harm their long-term success. The pressure to win shouldn't circumvent turning Towns/Wiggins/LaVine/rookie into great players. Thibs has worn most of his stars into nubs, Brooks never figured out a system that could beat a great defense consistently, and Van Gundy coached some of the ugliest offenses in modern history. Kevin Arnovitz has an article every year in ESPN about some of the top assistant coaching options in the league, and any good search should include many of the guys listed. It's not like Mike Budenholzer, Terry Stotts, Steve Clifford, or Erik Spoelstra were winning the press conference, but the Wolves would be lucky to have any of them over the 3 big names.

I'm sure everyone involved will move on, and I still disagree with the concept of Wiggins going anywhere else until his second contract ends (the only one who has ever done that was Greg Monroe, a guy who his original team didn't try to keep), but this team had to have a strong bond. The hug that Towns gave Mitchell as he came out on Wednesday showed that. The group that anonymously criticized him could've easily included Martin and Miller, and Krawczynski never intimated that it was a majority of the guys.

Disrespectful?

I agree with you that Sam improved as a coach along with the young talent he was coaching. He did a nice job this year. In a league where guys like Kurt Rambis get a second chance at coaching, Sam is definitely not a bad coach. I think this roster deserves better than that though. We have a roster with a ton of talent and we owe it to them to pair that talent with the best possible coach we can get. With the names being tossed around, I don't think many would disagree that Mitchell is not that guy.

Should he have been included in the search? It's kind of like a girlfriend saying she wants to see other people. The writing is on the wall and I think I'd want to a clean break rather than waiting around for confirmation of the inevitable truth.

Root Cause

Through all the years, all the managers, coaches and players, there has only been one constant, ownership.

Not holding my breath.

FWIW, I want to thank you for

FWIW, I want to thank you for bringing up the racial angle in all of this. I doubt Taylor is aware of this dynamic and is hardly an active racist, but that's kind of the problem with systemic racism.

There need to be more diverse voices in the NBA boys club. Also women, which I think should obviously be added to this complaint for a number of reasons, one of them having to do with the championship banners hanging at Target Center that surely even Glen himself can see with his own eyes.

There is no reason that women should not be considered for these positions.

Mark Jackson?

Hi Britt, thanks for the article! I started watching the Wolves as a kid during the Garnett, Cassel, Spreewell run (with fond memories of needing to catch a playoff game in a laundramat while driving through Grand Marais). And I have been watching the Wolves "develop" for a while.

It was sad to see Sam go this way after some really exciting wins against teams like Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Golden State. Unlike past seasons, it seems almost every player on the team improved this year. I was especially amazed at how much better Zach has gotten under Mitchell.

What would you say are the similarities/differences between this team and the 2011 Golden State team? And is Mark Jackson being considered as a coach?

He might have a nice chip on his shoulder after watching the team he developed win the Championship last year.

More like "held back" than "developed" the Warriors

Their offense was terrible even with this current group when he was there, and their defense has been about the same. The only guy who looks similar in this group as he did with that one is Harrison Barnes. That's not even getting into the paranoia and distrust he had of his own assistants. He doesn't have a job because he didn't show enough success to be worth all the extra hassle he's brought.

Announcing Dream Team

Off-topic: whether or not either JVG or Mark Jackson is worthy of consideration for the head coaching gig, it'd be a darn shame to break up the best national basketball announcing team ever. Along with Mike Breen, they get all the basics right: knowledgeable, insightful, and they know when *not* to talk and let the game's atmosphere take over. Mark Jackson's straight-man as foil to JVG's wonky ranting puts it over the top.

So when all is done

Will Korn Ferry be in charge of the club?

I do not understand the role of a search firm in this matter. There are no hidden candidates, no 42-0 Nigerian Jungle League coaches to be discovered. Glen had to spend money to figure out that Thibs was a top candidate? This isn't 3M looking for an organic chemist, the pool of qualified candidates has no more than a few dozen names on it.

If Glen's not competent to hire new personnel, he's not fit to own the club. Maybe Korn Ferry will buy it from him.

Sad to see this happen when and how it did

Glenn Taylor is simply the worst owner in this town. This was a classless handling in every way shape and form. The season ended on an up note, he could not wait to ruin it , I'm sure it wasn't malice, just more oafish PR from a team that has been sadly well known for this for more than three decades.

They will probably manage to mess up the Garnettconnection as well. KG is not ready for a management role quite yet, but his returning to the Twin Cities give a boost of energy and hope for the future. I remember the quote in Sports Illustrated when KG was drafted, an NBA Scout was asked what KG added to the Timberwolves as a high school kid in the NBA. His comment was "Maturity".

Flip had a vision when he returned to the wolves. Sadly did not get to finish it. KG was part of that vision. i could easily see Taylor screwing that vision up with a poorly executed hire and forcing KG and this core away. Wouldn't be the first time for this franchise.

I agree completely

While I have not not been a Sam Mitchell fan, he has earned the right to be considered for the job even if the odds are against him getting it.
And there's always the chance (very real given the style of the top management) that the name coaches won't want the job despite the potential of the young players.

Update

I hope I can have this included at the bottom of the story proper, but if not I want to correct something that is factually inaccurate in the story.

The offending paragraph is the final one in the section Bait and Switch and just before the section Respecting Mitchell. It claims that Fox 9's Dawn Mitchell was the first to break the story details about Mitchell being out of the loop, and that it happened during the game. In fact I have subsequently learned that beat writers Jon Krawczynski of AP and Jerry Zgoda of the Strib had those details as early as 4:30-5 p.m. and that Dawn Mitchell's television report went on at 6:24. Apparently Chris Long of KSTP also had these details early in the process.

To the extent that Mitchell may have had time to learn he was excluded from the process permanently, this matters to the narrative of my column. But that matter still is in dispute and remains open to speculation. What is beyond dispute was that some hard-working beat writers got important details before I said they did, which is disrespectful to the work they did in what was a crazy day (on top of it all, Krawcyznski had jury duty!). I regret not acknowledging their work accurately.

Sam's treatment was the inverse of status quo

I understand the sentiment that the treatment of Mitchell could be interpreted as disrespect, but isn't that typically how quality professional franchises and/or aggressive owners might ordinarily operate?

When Zygi Wilf took over the Vikings, one of his first significant moves was firing Tice - which he did by handing out a letter in the locker room after a week 17 victory. It was the right move but wrong method. Tice admitted it was harsh but also stated that Zygi is driven and passionate and will learn from that experience.

Glen Taylor, on the other hand, has been loyal to a fault and let valuable time expire as he deferred decisions (remember when Kahn had Rambis write a "report" on what he learned from the season?). My fear for this hire was he would again drag his feet and start searching for a coach in June. So - in this particular case considering the circumstances and Taylor's history, I don't mind the cut throat-edness behind the method. Dare I say it's actually... refreshing.

That being said: I would like to see Mitchell back as an assistant coach, if he and the new coach happen to be on the same page. That may be water under the bridge considering the disrespect paid to Mitchell, however.