Gersson Rosas Rumors
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBCA: “During this past off-season, we saw many NBA head coaching vacancies where teams led searches that were both diverse and transparent. This must be the standard. We must establish a level playing field and equal access to opportunity for all coaching candidates. The NBCA has been working closely with the League Office on a wide range of initiatives that will improve future coaching searches. In partnership with the NBA, we look forward to sharing details in the weeks to come.”
Finch is the coach whom Rosas believes can turn things around for the team with the worst record in the league, and no amount of criticism for a lack of a formal search process that included any candidates of color or for the timing of hiring Finch right on top of firing Saunders was going to dissuade Rosas from making the decision he deemed to be necessary and right. “At the end of the day, where we’re at, we have to be realistic with ourselves,” Rosas said. “We got the worst record in the NBA. We’re struggling on both sides of the ball, and we really lacked the confidence as a result of that, and we can get the real change we needed by making the decision we made here. We needed to be bold and direct with this opportunity.”
At the time, Rosas was interested in adding Finch as an associate head coach, but the New Orleans Pelicans blocked that move, sources told The Athletic. So Rosas and Saunders made Vanterpool the top lieutenant and put him in charge of coordinating the defense. That Vanterpool was not elevated to interim coach when Saunders was fired after spending the last 18 months on staff was worrisome to some in the league. That there was no consideration of any candidates of color at all in a unilateral hiring process was of even larger concern. “Anybody that knows me knows how important diversity is to me, and it’s a big part of who I am and what I’m about,” Rosas said. “Our staff and the diversity we have speaks for itself.”
The Wolves and Rosas have walked the walk in that regard. But a head coach is one of the two highest-profile leadership positions in an organization. And during a time when more and more attention is being paid to the lack of opportunities for people of color in all sports, making this move without even interviewing a Black candidate is going to be questioned. “Unfortunately when you’re in the middle of a season, you’re really at the mercy of teams in terms of who can become available and who’s not available,” Rosas said.
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.