Timberwolves interview Mike Woodson

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the Minnesota Timberwolves continued the process of hiring arguably their most important employee, they told some on the business side of their operations that their services won't be needed during the NBA lockout.

The Timberwolves laid off at least 11 business side employees on Tuesday, many of them in the sales department, as the effects of the NBA lockout start to sink in across the league.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press of the moves. The person requested anonymity because the Timberwolves are not discussing personnel matters. So far, the basketball side of the operations have been spared, with president of basketball operations David Kahn bringing in Mike Woodson on Tuesday to interview for the head coaching opening.

Woodson is also a candidate for the Detroit Pistons and his defensive mindset would seem to be a much better fit there than in Minnesota, where Kahn has said he wants a coach with an "up-tempo DNA."

Woodson does have experience with rebuilding projects, having helped the Atlanta Hawks rise from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to become a playoff team before he was replaced by Larry Drew.

Kahn interviewed Terry Porter on Monday and the search is expected to include several more names before the process is complete. Career wins leader Don Nelson could arrive from his home in Hawaii for an interview before the end of the week and Portland assistant Bernie Bickerstaff and Memphis assistant Dave Joerger have also been mentioned as possible candidates.

The Wolves are at least the third team in the league to start laying off employees. The Charlotte Bobcats laid off at least seven last week, including radio play-by-play announcer Scott Lauer. The Detroit Pistons fired 15 employees earlier this month.

NBA owners locked out the players on July 1 after the collective bargaining agreement expired. Teams and players are bracing for what could be an extended labor battle, one that is threatening the 2011-12 season.