The Minnesota Timberwolves have officially announced the hiring of former Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch as new head coach, less than 12 hours after Ryan Saunders was fired.
“He is one of the most creative basketball minds in the NBA, has success maximizing players, and I am excited to see him bring our team to the next level and beyond,” Timberwolves president of operations Gersson Rosas said in a statement.
Finch, 51, is taking over a Timberwolves team that sports an NBA-worst record of 7-24. He was in just his first season with the Raptors after several years as the associate head coach under Alvin Gentry with the New Orleans Pelicans. Finch replaced Nate Bjorkgren, now the coach of the Indiana Pacers, with Toronto.
“I can’t wait to get to work,” Finch said in the release.
Rosas and Finch once worked together with the Houston Rockets, when Rosas served as assistant general manager and Finch as assistant coach.
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- In hiring Finch, the Timberwolves passed over Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers. Vanterpool has been a hot head-coaching candidate and the Timberwolves’ decision to pass him over didn’t sit well with Blazers star Damian Lillard. “How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool and he’s right there on the bench…” Lillard tweeted. “And has been in front office SUCCESSFULLY and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) … and also has played a major role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!”
- Just before Saunders was fired, Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns told reporters he wants to remain with the Timberwolves. “If you want to build a legacy we got to win,” Towns said. “And I want to build my legacy here so I want to win with the Wolves, and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to keep step-by-step, brick-by-brick, building something and a culture here that’s going to stand here for a long time.”
- Rosas made a “singular decision” in firing Saunders, wrote Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. But the firing was “inevitable,” added Jim Souhan of the same outlet.