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Timberwolves fire head coach Ryan Saunders, hire Raptors assistant Chris Finch

Jason Owens
·2-min read

The Minnesota Timberwolves fired head coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday night. The team announced the decision shortly after multiple reports of his dismissal Sunday evening.

The Timberwolves officially hired Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch on Monday, after The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Sunday that Finch would take Saunders' place. Finch will join the Timberwolves as their full-time coach, not on an interim basis, according to the report.

Hobbled Timberwolves have NBA's worst record

Saunders, 34, was in his third season coaching the Timberwolves. He's the son of late former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders, who coached the team for 11 seasons over two stints, including a 10-year run from 1995-2005 during the Kevin Garnett era.

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders calls out a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
The Timberwolves have replaced Ryan Saunders after a league-worst 7-24 start. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Saunders compiled a 43-93 record (.316) in two-plus seasons with the Timberwolves, who are off to a league-worst 7-24 start this season. Minnesota has played several games this season without its two best players, Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell. Towns missed time after contracting COVID-19, while a lingering knee injury limited Russell before he opted for surgery last week.

Saunders coached Minnesota during a Sunday afternoon loss to the New York Knicks.

Finch, Timberwolves executive Gersson Rosas have worked together before

Finch, 51, joined Nick Nurse's Raptors staff in November after the departure of assistant Nate Bjorkgren to the Indiana Pacers. He has been an NBA assistant coach since 2011 with the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans before joining the Raptors.

Finch has a relationship with Minnesota's president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas from their time together in Houston. Rosas was a member of former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's staff when Finch was an assistant in Houston from 2011-16.

“I would like to thank Glen Taylor and Gersson Rosas for this incredible opportunity to be the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Finch said in a statement. “I look forward to working hand and hand with Gersson to build and lead a team that Timberwolves fans will be proud of. We have excellent pieces in place and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Great Britain coach Chris Finch looks on in the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Chris Finch, seen here coaching Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, gets his first NBA head coaching job at 51. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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