7 People who turned their backs on the Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers
Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers / Harry How/GettyImages
1 of 7

The Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of one of their best seasons in franchise history. Currently in the running for their second one-seed ever, the Wolves have put together their best squad since the early 2000s.

Despite taking some time to get off the ground, the franchise saw a quick ascension once Kevin Garnett entered the mix and Flip Saunders took over as the head coach. After failing to win more than 30 games from 1989 to 1996, the Wolves made the playoffs for the first time in 1997.

From 1997 to 2004, the Wolves saw their win total jump in practically every season sans a lockout-shortened 1998-99 and a slight decrease from the 2000-01 season to 2001-02. The success culminated in a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2004—Minnesota's best season in franchise history.

Over the next 13 years, the Wolves struggled to find stability. Draft misses, poor trades, inexplicable contract extensions, and the inability to find the right coach doomed the organization. The angst lasted until 2018, when Tom Thibodeau led the Wolves to a playoff appearance.

However, the success was short-lived and Thibodeau was fired less than a year later. Minnesota just recently found stability with the pairing of head coach Chris Finch and team president Tim Connelly leading the way.

Now 20 years removed from their one and only Western Conference Finals appearance, it's a high possibility the Wolves make it back. Considering the capricious nature of the Wolves' history, we'll take a look back at six former Wolves and one current Timberwolf who seemingly turned their backs on the franchise.

7. Isaiah Rider

To begin the list, we have Isaiah Rider. Rider, known as "J.R." was drafted by the Wolves with the fifth overall selection in the 1993 NBA Draft. He began his career by averaging 16.6 points and winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie.

As good as Rider was, various off-court issues began to plague the rising star. During his rookie season, he was arrested for assaulting a bar manager in a dispute over his failure to attend an autograph session. Rider ended up entering a plea and he received probation as part of the deal.

The UNLV product's scoring average increased to 20.4 points and he also knocked down 1.9 triples per game in his second season. The 23-year-old swingman looked like a franchise cornerstone for the recently assembled Timberwolves squad.

However, locker room and off-court issues continued to derail a promising start to his career. During his impressive sophomore season, Rider had numerous disagreements with coaches and proved to be unruly when it came to leadership.

In 1995, Rider violated his probation and was subsequently sent to jail where he served a four-day sentence. A year later, the troubled phenom was arrested again. This time, Rider was pulled over by a California patrol officer and arrested for marijuana possession and the possession of an irregular cell phone.

While run-ins with the law aren't necessarily classified as "turning your back on a team," the Wolves' investment in Rider proved burdensome as he was shipped out to the Portland Trail Blazers by 1996. If J.R. had been capable of staying on the straight and narrow, he would've formed a deadly combination with future All-Star Kevin Garnett.