The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Milt Newton leaving Washington Wizards to become Minnesota Timberwolves general manager

Flip Saunders gets his man. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Milt Newton, the Washington Wizards’ vice president of player personnel for the past 10 seasons, has been hired as general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, people with knowledge of the situation confirmed on Wednesday.

Newton interviewed with Flip Saunders, the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations and former Wizards coach, last week in Washington and was in Minneapolis on Tuesday to reach an agreement that has been rumored to be in the works for several weeks. Saunders returned to Minnesota last May and will continue to have final say over personnel decisions but needed an experienced executive to deal with scouting and other aspects of running a team. A formal announcement is expected to come in the next few days, according to a league source.

Since joining the Wizards in 2003, Newton has been instrumental in directing the scouting department for the organization and has played in a significant role in draft and free agent decisions. He created the Wizards’ comprehensive scouting database, led pre-draft efforts and conducted workouts for prospects. In his time with the Wizards, Newton has also been heavily involved in charitable efforts and assisted with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders delegations in South Africa and Senegal.

A native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Newton was raised in the District and starred at Coolidge High before playing at Kansas, where he won a national championship playing for Larry Brown. Newton played professionally in the Continental Basketball Association and he has previously worked as a scout with the Philadelphia 76ers, assistant director of USA Men’s Basketball and served as the director of player personnel for the NBA Development League before joining the Wizards.

Saunders worked with Newton during his 2½-year stint as head coach of the Wizards. But Newton also has ties to Minnesota. His wife, Shalaun, is a native of the area.

Newton’s exit leaves the Wizards will a huge void to fill. The organization already hired Frank Ross from Oklahoma City to replace former director of player personnel Pat Connelly, who left to became assistant general manager of the Phoenix Suns.