MINNEAPOLIS -- According to Minnesota Timberwolves owner
Glen Taylor, the team's acquisitions of Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell two summers ago were a "failed experiment."
Before Minnesota's fifth-to-last game in a terribly
disappointing season, Cassell figured his time with the
Timberwolves was nearing an end.
"He told me right there he don't want me back," Cassell said
Wednesday when told of Taylor's critical comments. "You experiment
with something, and it doesn't work. Would you try it again?"
For a story published in Wednesday's editions of the St. Paul
Pioneer Press, Taylor said he regretted trading for Sprewell and
Cassell -- despite significant contributions from the two veterans
that led to a run to the Western Conference finals last season.
"This was an expensive financial decision; certainly,
financial-wise, it was a poor decision on our part," Taylor said.
"Overall, it was just a failed experiment."
Cassell, 35, and Sprewell, 34, each complained in training camp
about not getting contract extensions. Sprewell will be a free
agent after making more than $14 million this season. Cassell has
another year at about $6 million on his deal.
Their attitudes have been questioned all season since the
distractions they caused with their contract demands. Cassell
missed 23 games with a strained hamstring.
"Our goal was to win the championship," Taylor said. "We
never expected to be anything other than one of the top four or
five teams in the league. And even today, it's hard to believe we
could be anything less than that, when you look at the other teams
in the league. It's hard to believe that, in the Western
Conference, there are four teams that are better than us."
Actually, it's eight. The Timberwolves tipped off their game
against Golden State needing to win their last five and have
Memphis lose its final five. The Grizzlies were at Houston on
"That's what happens when your team doesn't bond and come
together," said interim coach Kevin McHale, who took a diplomatic
stance on Taylor's criticism.
"I'm not going to get into all that," McHale said. "Glen's
the owner of the team. He's certainly entitled to his opinion. The
whole thing did not turn out very well this year. That's not just
Latrell and Sam. The whole team never worked out."
Cassell complained that he had been made into a scapegoat for
"It starts at the top and it dwindles down from there ...
Hypothetically, when it's all said and done, they're going to blame
it all on me," Cassell said. "Just because Sam Cassell was hurt
and Sam asked for a contract."
Cassell said he'll have a long talk about his future with
teammate Kevin Garnett in the offseason.
"I know for a fact he trusts me when I'm on the basketball
court," Cassell said. "The only thing I can say is seven, eight
months from now, I'll be back to the old Sam."
Taylor, who was unavailable for further comment at Wednesday's
game, suggested major changes would be made over the summer.
"Latrell himself has to decide ... if he even wants to play
with us. What we have to look at is, is he the right player on our
team next year or not?" Taylor said.
Taylor hinted that Cassell could be traded.
"He's on our payroll this next year, so you've got to deal with
it," Taylor said. "You just can't say what you're going to do. If
you can get a trade that's a good trade, you do it. If you can't,
you've got to utilize the people as best you can. It isn't just as
simple as saying, 'We're going to make these changes."'
Taylor clearly hasn't appreciated his team's performance in the
final weeks of the season, especially Saturday's loss to lowly
Wolves interim coach Kevin McHale blamed it on "selfishness"
after the game, and Taylor agreed.
"I think in all businesses and stuff, there is always some
selfishness," Taylor said. "Usually, you're able to moderate that
toward the team goal. But we're having a difficult time doing that,
and it will be how I will focus toward next year -- what players are
really leading the team, and what players are causing that, and is
it something we can change? And if it's something that we can't
change, I guess we'll have to change the players."
Taylor was still looking forward to year. For one thing, he will
have to hire a new coach because Flip Saunders was fired in
February and McHale has made it clear he doesn't want to coach next
"I would just say every other year in our franchise was a good
year," Taylor said. "We always did better than we expected. This
is the first time that things didn't work out as we planned. And
that's very disappointing."