The Minnesota Timberwolves currently have the worst record in the NBA at 7-24, a combination of youth, injuries, and the extended absence of superstar Karl-Anthony Towns with both injury and a serious battle with COVID-19. Still, for a team that entered the season at least hopeful to be a part of the play-in picture in the Western Conference, it has been a disappointing start to the season.
On Sunday, the Wolves were unable to complete a comeback against the New York Knicks, dropping their fourth straight game and, after the 103-99 loss, the team apparently decided that would be the end of Ryan Saunders’ coaching tenure.
NEWS: @Timberwolves Relieve Ryan Saunders of his Duties
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 22, 2021
Saunders, the son of legendary former Wolves coach Flip Saunders, went 43-94 in his three seasons with the Timberwolves (none of which were complete seasons for various reasons), as he took over when Tom Thibodeau was fired in January of 2019. The 34-year-old Saunders was the NBA’s youngest coach and while he had a strong connection with his star in Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves were never able to put it all together under his guidance.
This was apparently not a decision the Timberwolves made suddenly, as word emerged shortly after reports of Saunders’ firing that they would be hiring Raptors assistant Chris Finch, not as an interim head coach, but as their full-time coach on a long-term deal.
Chris Finch is becoming the new Timberwolves head coach on a full-time basis, not as an interim, sources said. The Timberwolves fired Ryan Saunders tonight after loss to the Knicks in New York. https://t.co/HFVdycuEUv
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 22, 2021
The Timberwolves asked permission to the Raptors on assistant coach Chris Finch and are proceeding on hiring him as head coach to replace Ryan Saunders, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 22, 2021
It’s extremely rare for a coach to be fired midseason and for a hire to be lined up already from a different team, as that indicates the wheels have been in motion on this for some time. Finch is the second Nick Nurse assistant to be hired for a head coaching job, joining Nate Bjorkgren of the Pacers, as the Raptors bench has quickly become one of the most coveted in the NBA.