Wolves fire Saunders; to hire Finch, sources say

The Minnesota Timberwolves is completing a multi-year deal on Monday to do Toronto Raptors Assistant Chris Finch, the franchisee’s new coach, told ESPN.

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas fired Ryan Saunders on Sunday, clearing the way for Minnesota to avoid a temporary coach and move quickly toward hiring a full-time replacement.

Rosas informed Saunders about the decision after 103-99 loss to New York Knicks which left the Timberwolves at 7-24, the worst record in the NBA.

Rosas retained Saunders as head coach after being hired in May 2019, a process that included interviews with Finch for the job. Rosas and Finch have history back to their days together in Houston Rockets organisation.

Finch is expected to begin work on Tuesday in Milwaukee with Saunders coaches on site, including assistant head coaches David Vanterpool and assistants Bryan Gates and Pablo Prigioni, sources said.

Finch has been assistant coach with Houston, Denver, New Orleans and Toronto and won a G-League title with Rio Grande Valley in 2010. Toronto hired Finch during the off-season as Nick Nurse’s top assistant, but would not stand in his way of accepting a head coach job during the season, he said. sources.

No assistant coach has moved to a head coach job with a new team during the season since Memphis hired Lionel Hollins from Milwaukee in 2009.

Rosas did not want to spend the season with a temporary coach, sources said, and wanted to maximize the development of a veteran core around the All-Star Center. Karl-Anthony Towns, Malik Beasley, Total 1 choice Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, who is out with knee surgery.

Saunders was 43-94 as a coach for the Timberwolves for two seasons as a coach. He could only coach his two All-Star players, Towns and Russell, for five games since the franchise was traded for Russell in February 2019.

Minnesota was hit hard by injuries and COVID-19 releases this season. Russell played 20 games before undergoing left knee surgery that will put him sideways for the next four to six weeks. Towns has only played 11 games this season between a wrist injury and COVID-19.

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