Skip to main content

Former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders heads to the Denver Nuggets

Vincent Frank
David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Saunders had very little success in parts of three seasons as the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach. The son of franchise legend Flip Saunders, he posted a 43-94 record in parts of three seasons from 2018-21.

Still only 36 years old, Saunders simply seemed to be in over his head in that role. After sitting out this past season, the Minnesota native has landed another gig.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Saunders has been brought on by Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone to be part of his staff.

This is another rather interesting development between the two Western Conference rivals throughout the early stages of the NBA offseason. It was last month that Minnesota hired former Nuggets front office head Tim Connelly to be its next president of basketball operations — signing him to a huge contract in the process.

Ryan Saunders and the Denver Nuggets coaching staff

denver nuggets hire ryan saunders
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a first-round exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Denver is seeking more experience on the bench behind Malone. Ryan Bowen is currently Malone’s longest-tenured assistant having been with the team the past seven seasons.

As for Ryan Saunders, he has a ton of experience as an assistant in the NBA despite his relatively young age. He served as an assistant for the Washington Wizards from 2009-14 before making his way to Minnesota where Saunders was an assistant for parts of five seasons before taking over in an interim role during the 2018-19 season following the firing of Tom Thibodeau.

Saunders’ father, Flip, was Minnesota’s head coach from 1995-2005 — leading the team to eight playoff appearances in the process. Sadly, Saunders passed away from Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 2015 at the young age of 60 during his second stint with the Wolves. His son was an assistant for the team during that time.