At the time of Flip Saunders and Rick Adelman's most notorious preliminary Target Center meeting, both men were noticeably younger, Gatorade X-Factor was the hottest sports drink on the shelf, and TNT vehemently promoted the next episode of "Bad Boys" during its in-game spots. Kevin Garnett had the night of his life, sending the Minnesota Timberwolves to their first and only conference finals. After the 83-80 victory, widely regarded as the most memorable in Twin Cities history, Minnesota's Saunders and Sacramento's Adelman shook hands as counterparts, standing across from each other on the exact same plane. Entering a new era in Timberwolves history, the pair's relationship has been altered dramatically. It's nothing new, the unique dynamic between a coach-turned-general manager and the bench under him. But it is a rarity in today's NBA, where the majority of front office executives' experience comes in conference rooms rather than practice gyms. Of the league's 30 current GMs, only three besides Saunders possess any head coaching experience. Every organization's set up a bit differently, but the general stigma is that a former coach operating alongside a current one in the personnel department leads naturally to some head-butting. Saunders faced questions on that very topic when introduced earlier this month as the replacement for former team president David Kahn. "I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with him," Saunders said of Adelman, who coached the Houston Rockets after eight years with the Kings then came to Minneapolis before last season. "We're a team moving forward. I don't think that my view is going to change." There's current and historical evidence that lends credence to Saunders' positivity. Former head men Pat Riley, Danny Ainge and Kevin Pritchard each built a 2013 playoff team as general managers. Two of those squads -- Riley's Miami Heat and Pritchard's Indiana Pacers -- open the Eastern Conference Finals against each other on Wednesday, and Ainge was responsible for bringing both Garnett and Ray Allen, among others, to Boston. The Celtics have reached the postseason eight of the former Phoenix Suns coach's 10 years in place, including winning the 2008 NBA Finals championship. Ainge earned NBA executive of the year accolades following that season. It was in Boston that the first and most productive transition from floor to front-office general first took place. The Celtics won nine league titles with Red Auerbach as head coach and general manager, and six more with him focused solely on his executive duties. The Hall of Famer always took a laissez-faire approach to management.
History proves Saunders, Adelman can find success
Fox Sports North | May 20