Memphis coach Dave Joerger is expected to meet with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor over the upcoming holiday weekend, the next step toward him becoming the next head coach for his home-state NBA team.
Joerger interviewed with Flip Saunders, the Wolves president of basketball operations, on Thursday at an undisclosed location after the team earlier this week received permission from the Grizzlies to discuss its job opening with the first-year NBA head coach, league sources said.
He now must convince Taylor he’s the right guy for a job vacated when future Hall of Fame coach Rick Adelman retired after this past season.
The Wolves also must reach agreement with the Grizzlies over compensation, if any, for a coach whom Memphis has signed to a contract for the next two seasons but appears to not want back.
At age 40, Joerger has emerged this week as the clear frontrunner in a coaching search that included interviews with, among others, former Wolves player Sam Mitchell and former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, whom Joerger replaced in Memphis.
If hired as the franchise’s 11th head coach, Joerger will be coming home after a decade spent laboring in basketball’s minor leagues and seven seasons in Memphis, six as an assistant and this past season as an NBA head coach.
He grew up in Staples, Minn., where he was a star high school guard and formidable tennis player and then played basketball at Concordia College and Minnesota State, Moorhead.
The Grizzlies this week granted the Wolves permission to talk with Joerger after previously denying a request.
They did so after CEO Jason Levien and assistant general manager Stu Lash were swept out of the front office Monday in a sudden move overseen by owner Robert Pera.
Levien hired Joerger to replace Hollins last summer. Joerger’s Grizzlies went 52-30 and lost a seven-game, first-round series to Oklahoma City.
They finished the regular season 33-13 after star center Marc Gasol returned in January from a knee injury.
If the Grizzlies insist upon compensation for a coach they don’t want to employ for the next two seasons, the Wolves can only pay in cash or draft picks, not players.
They do have three second-round picks in next month’s draft, any one of which they can offer outright or flip-flop with the Grizzlies if they so choose.
A NBA source on Wednesday said the compensation issue wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but that matter still must be resolved.