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Maybe Bill Simmons Should Have Been Hired as Timberwolves' General Manager in 2009

By Stephen Douglas
The 2010 New Yorker Festival: In Conversation With Malcolm Gladwell
The 2010 New Yorker Festival: In Conversation With Malcolm Gladwell / Amy Sussman/Getty Images
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The Minnesota Timberwolves fired President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Gersson Rosas on Wednesday, just days before training camp is set to open. Gersson is the just the latest person to fail in the Minnesota front office under owner Glen Taylor. Gersson was the 7th person to be general manager of the Wolves since 2009. I mention 2009 because that was when Bill Simmons suggested he should be the general manager of the Timberwolves. Twelve years later... maybe he was right.

Much of the Internet from that era is in ruin these days, but you can still find some articles and posts that mention Simmons' candidacy. The general consensus back then seemed to be "they really couldn’t do any worse, could they?" (That's from Awful Announcing.)

Simmons addressed this in his May 6, 2009 podcast with Matt Taibbi. Feel free to just turn this on and bask in the 2009-ness. Five-dollar footlongs. A freeflowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subjects. The comforting sound of Ronald Jenkees' voice. It's a heck of a time capsule.

Simmons began the podcast by saying, "Alright. Beautiful Wednesday here in Southern California. Active morning for me so far on my Twitter page which can be reached at sportsguy33 - all lower case." Tell me that doesn't take you back.

Simmons laid out his case to be the GM, mentioning that the Timberwolves should hire a controversial sports columnist because it would lead PTI. Okay, so maybe he didn't have an airtight case, but he obviously didn't get the job or receive serious - if any - consideration anyway. Looking at the results the franchise has had since then, maybe he should have been given that chance.

Two weeks after Simmons made his case, the Timberwolves hired David Kahn to be team president and general manager. A month after that Kahn selected point guards Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn ahead of Stephen Curry in the 2009 NBA Draft. He also selected Ty Lawson with the 18th pick and Wayne Ellingotn with number 28. Could Bill Simmons have done that? Definitely. Looking back at Simmons' 2009 NBA Draft Diary, he praised the Rubio pick and is on record in the moment as saying Stephen Curry would have been the right pick for the "Sota" at No. 6.

"So much for Minnesota doing the right thing. The Wolves just took Syracuse's Jonny Flynn … whom I really like … but … well … he's a point guard. Didn't they just take Rubio? Did I black out? You're going to have two young ball handlers playing together -- one who's 5-foot-11, the other who's 18 years old and weighs 180 pounds (and 30 of that is his hair), and that's your plan? Who's guarding the Kobes and Vinces out of those two? Why didn't they just take Curry? And why aren't the ESPN guys wondering about a trade here or, at the very least, murdering this pick? THEY JUST TOOK TWO STRAIGHT POINT GUARDS!!!!!!!!!!"

The important thing is that he would have gone with Curry, even if he didn't view him as a point guard or think he was better than Rubio. So that's one point for Simmons. It's also worth mentioning the only pick the Wolves got right since then was Karl-Anthony Towns. That was the top pick in the draft and Towns was the consensus No. 1. Simmons could have done that too.

The Timberwolves have missed the playoffs in 11 of the last 12 seasons dating back to the Kahn hiring. They're 315-610 over that period and have employed Kurt Rambis, Rick Adelman, Flip Saudners, Sam Mitchell, Tom Thibodeau, Ryan Saunders and Chris Finch as head coach. Who knows which of those hires Simmons could have been talked into, but he at least would have been able to save the franchise from two years of Kurt Rambis. There's no way The Boston Sports Guy hires the guy Kevin McHale clotheslined. Simmons easily could have hired a similar group of bad coaches. Could he have done worse? It would have been difficult.

Thibs was the only good hire. Being a former Celtics coach who had recently been to an Eastern Conference Finals, Simmons could have gotten that right too for the year it worked. Plus, he almost certainly could have pulled off the trade for distressed asset Jimmy Butler in 2017 that resulted in Minnesota's lone playoff appearance, a five-game first round loss to the Houston Rockets.

It might actually be impossible to imagine Simmons - or anyone - doing a worse job than the people who actually did the job for the Timberwolves over the last 12 years. At least with Simmons they would have talked about the team on PTI, which is more than they can say under the actual leadership running the team all those years. And what's more, if Glen Taylor offered Simmons the general manager job right now, I don't think he would take it.

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