T-Wolves Hire New Head Coach Chris Finch
Updated: Mar 24
Ryan Saunders Out, Chris Finch In
The NBA is a little over a third of the way into the 2020-2021 season & we’ve officially seen the first Head Coach get canned. Last night, following their 103-99 loss to the Knicks, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired their Head Coach Ryan Saunders. The T-Wolves fell to 7-24 with that loss, and sit at the very bottom of the NBA standings as of today. Saunders was appointed as the interim Head Coach of the T-Wolves on January 6, 2019, after they fired Tom Thibodeau who was there since 2016. Ironically, Saunders got fired after a loss to Thibodeau’s new team. Like they say, things come full circle.
Here's The Facts
Let’s get into what went wrong in Minnesota. A 43-93 overall record across his three seasons is not good at all. It’s a bad record, but he’s had bad teams. He was never given a chance to coach a full season in the NBA. He was appointed as the interim Head Coach 40 games into the season in 2019. Then, last season got cut short after only 64 games due to COVID-19. Now, he gets canned 31 games into the season. The roster is improved from previous years. They traded for D’Angelo Russell last February, but Saunders only got about a month with him that season, as they only played 12 more games. They drafted Anthony Edwards with the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft & he has shown promise so far in his first 31 games, & of course they still have their superstar Karl-Anthony Towns. Key players missing games has been a huge issue for Minnesota this year. Russell has missed 11 games and KAT has missed 20. All in all, literally only two players on the roster have played in every game this season. The new and improved roster on paper hasn't been on the court together much, so there isn't much chemistry just yet. Nonetheless, having the worst record in the NBA a third of the way into the season is typically enough to get a coach fired, so the T-Wolves went a different direction.
Ryan Saunders was trying to continue the family legacy in Minnesota. His father, the late Flip Saunders coached the Timberwolves for 10 seasons from 1995-2005 & then he coached them for one more year during the 2014-2015 season. Flip is the best Head Coach they've ever had. His 427 wins with the T-Wolves are the most in franchise history and up until the 2017-2018 season, Flip was the only coach in franchise history to coach the team to a winning record & coach them in a playoff game. Aside from that, Ryan was born in Minnesota, went to high school in Minnesota, went to college in Minnesota, and got his first NBA head coaching gig in Minnesota, but business is business.
What's Next in Minnesota?
The Timberwolves moved very quickly last night. They got permission from the Toronto Raptors to offer their Assistant Coach Chris Finch, and hired him as their new Head Coach, the 14th in franchise history. He’s been an Assistant Coach or Associate Head Coach for the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Raptors. This is his first Head Coaching opportunity in the NBA, but as the Head Coach for the Rocket’s affiliate team Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2009, he won their first G-League Championship and was named the league’s Coach of the Year. He is a great offensive minded coach. He was working under the Raptors’ Head Coach Nick Nurse, who said “I think he’s one of the best offensive minds in the NBA, so we’re lucky to have him'' when they hired him in December of 2020. His offensive expertise fits perfectly with the current Timberwolves roster. KAT & D-Lo are both great offensively. Malik Beasley is averaging 20.2 points per game & their rookie Anthony Edwards is already averaging 14.3 points per game. We’ll see if Chris Finch is the missing piece to the puzzle. It’ll be a long shot for them to make the playoffs, but they might make a big improvement throughout the rest of the season.