As Americas formally favorite Apprentice host would say, “You’re Fired Ryan Saunders.” This firing should not come as a huge surprise considering the lack of winning this Minnesota team was doing. During Saunders three seasons as the Timberwolves head coach, he never finished with a winning record and the team never made a playoffs. The team was a combined 43-94 under him, and this season has been a disaster. The Timberwolves currently sit with the worst record in the league and have two number one overall picks on the roster. It’s a team ripe with talent but lacking any sense of direction.
Chris Finch was hired off the Toronto Raptors bench shortly after Saunders was fired and here are some reactions.
Finch has been working in the NBA as an assistant since 2011, when he worked for the Houston Rockets. Since then he has been with the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans and the Toronto Raptors. Now his journey has landed him prime real estate in beautiful and freezing Minnesota.
Sure Finch has worked with good coaches like Mike Malone, Alvin Gentry and Nick Nurse, but he has no head coaching experience. The obvious hope here is that the Timberwolves landed the next Nurse, but this team needs to seriously consider the direction they want to go. The Timberwolves are a talented roster with few pieces that actually fit together. They have tons of young talent but lack veteran leadership. In their most successful season of recent they had fit, coaching and leadership surrounding that team. The aftermath has left this franchise lost and seemingly hopeless. The Timberwolves organization has and continues to waste Karl Anthony-Towns’ prime and after drafting Anthony Edwards first overall, nothing has changed (he did do an awesome dunk though).
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum tweeted their displeasure with the move, specifically considering the candidates on the Timberwolves bench. David Vanterpool played his basketball career all over the world and started coaching in Russia where he won a Euro-League Championship and five straight Russian League championships. After his time in Russia he worked with the Trailblazers from 2012 to 2019 and was hired by the Timberwolves to start the 2019-20 season.
An endorsement from a great player like Lillard should get more play, but people forget the Timberwolves are historically inept. Since losing the conference finals in 2004 the team has been to the playoffs once and lost in the first round. They consistently finish with some of the worst records in the league and continue to land generational talent and, again, waste their primes.
The oddest part about the coaching change was the rarity of hiring a coach from another team in the middle of the season. The Timberwolves are a mystery of a franchise. If they finish with a top three pick this season, they retain their draft pick from the Golden State Warriors. As it stands now, that will happen. Also, who knows what will happen. There is plenty of time to see what Chris Finch can do with this horrible team. Maybe, jjjuuussssttttt maybe, they’ll be decent. Probably not though.