The Minnesota Timberwolves announced that they have hired Chris Finch as their new head coach after the firing of Ryan Saunders.
Saunders was fired after the Wolves lost to the New York Knicks on Sunday and it was reported later during the day that they would be hiring Finch on a multi-year deal. The report was confirmed by the Timberwolves on Monday with GM Gersson Rosas making the official announcement. Said GM Rosas:
“I am excited to announce Chris Finch as our next head coach. Chris brings a wealth of basketball experience from his time in the NBA, G League, and Internationally. He is one of the most creative basketball minds in the NBA, has success maximizing players, and I am excited to see him bring our team to the next level and beyond.”
Who Is Chris Finch?
The 51-year old Finch played for Franklin and Marshall College in the NCAA where he earned Division III All-American honors in 1991 and 1992. As one of the best defensive players in the nation, he took Franklin and Marshall to the Division III championship game in 1991. Finch played professional basketball for the Sheffield Sharks in England’s second-tier National Basketball League until 1997.
His coaching career also began with the Sharks and after coaching stints in Germany and Belgium, he returned to the United States to become head coach of the Rio Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League. Finch led the Vipers to a 34-16 record, helped them win their first D-League title in 2010 while winning the 2010 D League Coach of the Year.
Finch moved to the NBA where he worked as assistant coaches for the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and New Orleans Pelicans. Before the start of the current season, he joined the Toronto Raptors as an assistant to Nick Nurse, who worked under Finch when he coached Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Although he was defensive-minded as a player, Finch is known as one of the best offensive minds in basketball coaching. He has worked with players like Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson, James Harden, and Kyle Lowry. Minnesota hopes he can fix the Wolves’ dysfunctional offense which ranked in the bottom 6 in scoring defense. More importantly, they hope that he will be the coach to lead them back to the playoffs.
Saunders Was Betting Favorite to Get Fired First
The Wolves have made the playoffs just once in the last 16 seasons, doing so in 2017-18 under Tom Thibodeau and with Jimmy Butler. They have not won a playoff series since defeating the Sacramento Kings in the 2004 Western Conference semifinals and missed 13 straight postseason appearances after that. They won just one game against the Rockets in 2018 and have missed the previous two playoffs.
Minnesota had decent expectations this season with the best NBA betting sites projecting them to win 35 to 36 games while fighting for the final playoff spots. The Wolves won the 2020 Draft Lottery and they firmly believed that picking first in the Draft would give them a third star to pair with their young duo of Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. They also brought back point guard Ricky Rubio for stability. But things have not worked as planned.
Town suffered an injury early in the season and when he came back, he contracted the virus and missed a month of action. When KAT was finally ready to return, it was D’Angelo Russell’s turn to suffer an injury. Anthony Edwards has shown flashes of greatness but he has been inconsistent while not being put in a position where he could maximize his potential.
Because of the Wolves’ early season struggles, Ryan Saunders was the betting favorite as the first NBA coach to get fired first this season, and that’s what happened. The Wolves currently have the worst record in the league at 7-24 but to Saunders’ credit, Towns and Russell played in just five out of a total of 45 games together since the Wiggins trade.
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