Ryan Saunders Rumors
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.
Dane Moore: Ricky Rubio on the firing of Ryan Saunders: “A lot of emotions. Our record is what it is. Of course the timing was a little weird… We have attachments and emotions to everything. But we have to move on… I’m going to miss Ryan.”
Towns also said Saunders will still be a “friend for life” even as their working relationship ends. “The one thing that I always can say about Ryan is he always put his all not only into the game of basketball as a coach, but as a man and trying to be a leader for us and lead us to be better men and even more righteous men,” Towns said. “He challenged me as a man. He challenged me in my faith. He challenged me as a player. He’s a tremendous leader and he’s a tremendous friend.”