MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves hired former Washington Wizards executive Milt Newton as general manager Friday, with new president of basketball operations Flip Saunders tabbing a familiar face to help him reshape the franchise's front office.
Newton spent the previous 10 years with the Wizards, most recently serving as vice-president of player personnel. He worked closely with Saunders when Saunders was the head coach for the Wizards, and quickly became a prime candidate to make the move to Minnesota when Saunders took over this summer for the fired David Kahn.
"I have followed Milt closely during his career and have always been impressed with his basketball knowledge, work ethic and professionalism," Saunders said in a statement issued by the team. "His front-office experience in the NBA, as well as his ability to combine analytics evaluation with his basketball playing and scouting background will greatly benefit our organization."
Saunders will continue to have final say on all organizational issues with the Wolves. But Newton will help with scouting, salary cap management, trade talks and other personnel issues. Rob Babcock also is expected to receive a greater role in scouting and personnel decisions as Saunders works to install some infrastructure in the basketball operations department.
Kahn spent the last two years of his four-year stay in Minnesota without an official general manager. The lack of a defined structure beneath Kahn in the front office led to confusion and inefficiency at times, and Saunders said when he was hired that establishing a more organized staff was one of his priorities.
Newton got in on the ground floor while the NBA Development League was established, something that appealed to Saunders, who takes great pride in his time as a coach and executive in the old CBA. Newton, whose wife went to high school in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka, also has worked for the Philadelphia 76ers and USA Basketball.
"Milt possesses an extraordinary skill set that is a great fit for the Timberwolves organization," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement issued by the Wolves. "His exceptional work ethic and basketball acumen played a large role in the launch and success of the NBA Development League. I am extremely pleased for Milt and the Timberwolves who will no doubt benefit from the tremendous experience he brings to their front office."