The Ryan Saunders era officially came to a close on Sunday
Last Sunday following the loss to the New York Knicks, the Minnesota Timberwolves informed Ryan Saunders that he would be relieved of his coaching duties. Son of the late Flip Saunders, Ryan remained on the coaching staff after his father’s passing and eventually was promoted to head coach after the Wolves moved on from Tom Thibodeau.
Under Coach Saunders the Timberwolves went an abysmal 7-24 to begin this season, worst in the Western Conference, and 43-94 in his two and a half seasons with the team.
Timberwolves general manager, Gersson Rosas, moved quickly after the firing, signing former Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch. With the hiring coming so quickly, it is reasonable to assume that the Timberwolves were likely searching for their next head coach well before Sunday evening. In Finch’s introductory press conference, Rosas addressed the firing. “We would like to thank Ryan for his time and commitment to the Timberwolves organization and wish him the best in the future,” Rosas said. “This change is in the best interest in the organization’s short and long term-goals.”
Rosas cites Finch’s “diverse experience” as being one of the things that stood out to the organization. Coach Finch has a deep background with various European leagues, including the British Basketball league, German Basketball Bundesliga, and Belgian Basketball League. “Those experiences I think are very relevant to our current game. We play a very international game in the NBA.” Following his career in Europe, Finch landed a job in the NBA D-League in 2009, coaching the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Clinching the number one seed in their conference and winning the D-League title in his first year, Finch was named the D-League Coach of the Year.
Working as an assistant for the Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, and Rockets prior to his hiring in Minnesota, Finch has worked with notable players like James Harden, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, and Zion Williamson. Working with another great center in Karl-Anthony Towns, Finch will look to utilize KAT to the best of his abilities. Timberwolves players did not speak to members of the media on Monday, but Finch did mention in a joint zoom call with Rosas that he called his star center over the phone to introduce himself and let him know he’ll be the focus of the offense. “What we can do with KAT feels like a natural fit to me. You don’t often get that type of skill package in this league.” Coach Finch also mentioned the importance of getting DeAngelo Russell some opportunities both for himself and to create for others.
The Timberwolves find themselves with the worst record in the NBA today, but are hoping that a fresh face with renowned experience and success will be the secret ingredient they need to take the league’s youngest roster to the next level. Hiring Finch to a multiyear deal, the Timberwolves made it clear that this is not a temporary fix, but a commitment.
The Finch era begins this Wednesday when the Timberwolves take on the Milwaukee Bucks, in what will be a highly anticipated debut.