Timberwolves fire Saunders, hiring Raptors assistant Finch

Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders watches the action from the sidelines. -USA Today images

The Minnesota Timberwolves have fired coach Ryan Saunders, the team announced.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch will be named Minnesota’s new coach.

The Timberwolves dropped a 103-99 decision to the New York Knicks on Sunday, falling to 7-24, worst in the league.

Saunders is the son of late former coach Flip Saunders, the 1970 Ohio Mr. Basketball who is the only coach to take the Timberwolves to the Western Conference finals (2004).

Ryan Saunders, 31, didn’t have nearly as much success in his short time in Minnesota, compiling a 17-45 record in 2018-19, then going 19-45 last year.

“These are difficult decisions to make, however this change is in the best interest of the organization’s short and long-term goals,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said in a statement.

The Timberwolves won the lottery and selected guard Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 overall pick during the offseason, but haven’t shown any improvement. When that’s the case, the coach is usually the first to be sent packing.

Finch, 51, is in just his first season as an assistant to Nick Nurse with the Raptors after spending several seasons as associate head coach with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Finch was a candidate for several offseason vacancies and at one time reportedly was even in the lead for the Indiana Pacers’ vacancy, which eventually went to Nate Bjorkgren. Finch then filled Bjorkgren’s seat in Toronto.

He also previously worked as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets when current Rosas was assistant GM there.

“Hiring a coach off another staff during the season is uncommon, but Toronto wouldn’t stand in the way of Finch’s chance to become a head coach now,” Wojnarowski reported. “Finch had success as a G-League head coach, and has interviewed for several head coaching jobs in recent years.”

The Timberwolves have lost four straight and visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of FortyEight Minutes. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and NBA.com.

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