Timberwolves

Rosas Burns Firewall With Decision to Relieve Saunders

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Following a disappointing loss to the Tom Thibodeau-led New York Knicks, the inevitable transpired. Gersson Rosas relieved Ryan Saunders of his coaching duties Sunday night.

The irony of Saunders being let go after a loss to the coach he replaced in 2019.

Unfortunately, the situation lacked cleanliness. Just under an hour after franchise-leader Karl-Anthony Towns spoke of his commitment to the franchise, Saunders was relieved as head coach. Within that time frame, Chris Finch, now former Toronto Raptors assistant, signed a multi-year deal to become the new head coach for the Wolves.

It makes one wonder if Towns knew this was coming.

Saunders’ impact on co-workers

Although Saunders finished his tenure with a 43-94 record, that does not diminish him as a person and his work ethic. Many media members that cover the Wolves sounded off their opinions of working with Saunders.

The questionable process

Other media members, such as Greg Anthony and Channing Frye, spoke of their disapproval of the situation’s handling. They even toyed with the idea of tampering, but there was approval from the Raptors for the Wolves to be in contact with Finch.

In hindsight, it wasn’t the best way to go about firing a coach, but something had to be done. The Wolves have the worst record in the NBA at 7-24 and Saunders was the scapegoat.

This now means Rosas’ firewall burned as well.

Rosas got his man

Chris Finch comes into the head coach position with over two decades of experience. As said by Nick Nurse, Finch’s teams play hard and win.

He started his professional career in England where he won the British League Trophy in 1998 and British League Cup championships in 1999 and 2000. Finch then went on to coach in Germany for five years, winning a Belgian League championship.

In 2009, Rosas and Finch’s paths crossed in Houston, as Finch became the head coach for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He led the team to a championship in 2010 and won coach of the year. He then became the assistant coach for the Rockets in 2011. After his tenure with the Rockets, he became the assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans and most currently the Raptors.

Finch’s reputation for winning and maximizing his players’ potential should enthrall Wolves fans. He helped orchestrate the beginning years of the James Harden era, worked with the DeMarcus CousinsAnthony Davis combination and played a part in the development of Nikola Jokic. This move has the potential to unlock Karl-Anthony Towns and push him back into the conversation as one of the top big men in the league. The proof of Finch’s developmental impact manifested as Brandon Ingram won Most Improved Player while Finch was on the Pelicans coaching staff.

The pressure is on

Now that Rosas handpicked the coach he wants, it is time to change the direction of this season. The Wolves are on track to have the worst record in the league. Presumably, Rosas’ expectations differed coming into the season. The pressure is on for Rosas to right the ship, even slightly, because now he has the head coach he interviewed back in 2019. Saunders was the firewall for Rosas not to take all the heat for the Wolves disastrous season.

Now with D’Angelo Russell out for at least six weeks, the utilization of this time is effectively training camp. With a new coach in town, the system is going to change. As all Wolves fans do, next-season mentality is in full swing. The goal is to see if the players buy into the new system by playing hard. At least there are still 41 games left on the schedule to see what the Finch era looks like.

In a vacuum, this switch looks like a home run. Finch has all the tools to tap into all the potential that is oozing out of this organization. However, things never seem as easy when it comes to the Wolves. Hopefully Finch can turn the 28th ranked team in offensive rating into a respectable standing by the end of the season. The Wolves have all the tools to be a top-ten rated offensive team, Finch may be the answer that this franchise is so desperately searching for.

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