NBA Rumor: Timberwolves Coaching Job

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Darren Wolfson: They had interest in bringing in Chris (Finch) as the associate head coach before they hired David Vanderpool. But my understanding is New Orleans then blocked that move. I’m told last offseason that Gerson wanted to bring Chris in as a coach before he went to Toronto to work with his dear friend Nick nurse, but the Wolves staff was full.

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But, once that initial emotion faded, the two-time NBA All-Star became supportive of the decision. However, he couldn’t help but notice the strong reaction from his league peers, such as Portland Trail Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, in regards to another African American being passed over for a head-coaching role in current Wolves assistant David Vanterpool. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t come on here and mention the amazing work that men of color are doing in this world. Not only in every other sport and through social justice and every other part of this world and in the organization or whatever the case may be, but for basketball,” Towns said. “For what my job is, there’s a lot of amazing men of color out there that deserve the opportunity to lead a team and to run an organization and have a chance to make their mark in this league not with a jersey on but with a suit on. And, I say that with meaning.

“But, like I said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing work David Vanterpool has put in, and as a man who looks like me, I can’t wait to see him get a job where he can flourish and be a head coach and run a team,” he continued. “We’re so honored and blessed to have him here on this coaching staff and get to continue learning from him and soak up all the wisdom and experience he has from playing professional and also from being a coach. And, with all that experience and with all that wisdom and just knowledge, it makes us that much better as a team, it makes us that much better as a coaching staff and it makes our new head coach, it just gives him so many weapons.”

Like so many things in this woebegone franchise’s lackluster history, Ryan Saunders’ fairy tale turn as Timberwolves head coach proved to be exactly that. Saunders had known for several weeks that he was in trouble as the losses mounted, sources told The Athletic. Players openly wondered about Saunders’ job security and it only seemed to be a question of whether he would make it to the end of the season. The answer came not long after a 103-99 loss to the Knicks in New York on Sunday night in a meeting with Wolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas.

In making the move for Finch over Vanterpool, it is clear that Rosas believes, right or wrong, that Finch is the more qualified candidate. It has been speculated in league circles over the last two years that Finch has been atop Rosas’s wishlist should he ever have to make a coaching change. By hiring him now, Rosas avoided any potential bidding war with other teams in the offseason, which appears to be motivation enough to weather the storm that will come from those in the coaching fraternity who believe something was in place with Finch before Saunders was dismissed and from those advocating for more opportunities for coaches of color.

To say most league observers expected this to happen at some point is a profound understatement. Saunders was inherited from the wreckage of the previous regime, and president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas — hired in 2019 — was always rumored to be interested in Finch. The two have a history going back to their shared time in Houston, where Finch was one of the best-regarded coaches in the G League for Houston’s Rio Grande Valley affiliate.

During Monday’s introductory news conference, Rosas welcomed the former Toronto Raptors assistant to try to turn things around after firing Ryan Saunders following Sunday’s loss to the Knicks in New York. “The things that he’s done coaching all around the world at different levels, those experiences, I think, are very relevant to our current game,” Rosas said. “We play a very international game in the NBA, and the experience that Chris has, the perspective that he has, the time that he’s been a head coach outside of the NBA, an assistant in the NBA as well, I think those perspectives, those expertise are really important for our organization on both sides of the floor.”

Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas is expanding the search for a head coach, but that doesn’t mean Rosas has eliminated interim coach Ryan Saunders from getting the job. Rosas will interview at least four candidates — Miami assistant Juwan Howard, Portland assistant David Vanterpool, New Orleans associate head coach Chris Finch and Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham — a source confirmed to the Star Tribune. Even though Rosas is interviewing multiple people for the position, Saunders remains a strong candidate for the job.

Of the four candidates Rosas is interviewing, Finch, 49, is an intriguing one given his ties to Rosas. The two worked together previously in Houston where Finch was an assistant coach from 2011 to 2016. He served one season in Denver before joining the staff in New Orleans the last two seasons. Prior to becoming an assistant in Houston, Finch also worked two seasons as the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G-League affiliate. Rosas played a big part in developing talent and implementing systems and style of play in the G-League when he was with Houston. Finch and the Vipers won a G-League title in 2009-10.
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The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant will still serve as an NBA All-Star Game captain despite a hamstring injury that will keep him from playing. Durant and fellow All-Star Game captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will each draft a roster out of the pool of selected All-Stars. The All-Star draft will air on TNT on March 4. It remained unclear whether Durant will travel to Atlanta for the game on March 7.
A Knicks official said Rivers was at the Garden, but in the back getting treatment for a sore ankle. Rivers was not listed on the pregame injury report submitted to the NBA. On the box score, Rivers was listed with a DNP-Coach’s Decision. Earlier this week, Rivers said of his situation: “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player.’’
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That doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. There’s a reason the Raptors signed him with G League intentions and not for the NBA roster. The 10-day contract (about $82,000) affords them six games to see how he can fit and progress in their environment. It’s an audition by another name, and not the first time the Raptors have used a 10-day to get a 905 look at a prospect. “This gives us a chance to get Donta down in our system, teach him our ins and outs and the way we operate our offence, our defence, our schemes, and see how he looks running those,” general manager Chad Sanders said. “With Tampa just down the street, it’s a chance for us to get him out there and get some reps and get a chance to evaluate him for the big club.”