The Minnesota Timberwolves have the worst record in the NBA, which is why they became the first team to make a coaching change this season. On Sunday night, they fired head coach Ryan Saunders after less than two years on the job and have reportedly already decided Toronto Rtors assistant Chris Finch as his replacement.
Finch previously worked with Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas in Houston, but the decision still came as a surprise for a number of reasons. First, it’s a surprise whenever an organization has a new coach lined up quickly and two coaches do not usually change teams in the middle of the season.
But there was also another question raised by Portland Trail Blazers stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum: why did not the Timberwolves give assistant coach David Vanterpool a chance?
“How the hell are you not hiring David Vanterpool and he’s right there on the bench …” Lillard wrote on Twitter. “And has been on the front office PROCEEDINGS and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) … and has also played an important role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!”
McCollum quote tweeted Lillard with “Make Sense. With Respect.”
It is important to note here that Lillard and McCollum are extremely close to Vanterpool, who before joining the Timberwolves bench was an assistant in Portland from 2012-2019. When Vanterpool traveled to Minnesota, Lillard made one emotional post on Instagram, where he wrote: “The day I never wanted to see in my career has arrived. @david_vanterpool … no words.”
But just because Lillard and McCollum hold on to their friend does not invalidate their concerns. Vanterpool has previously interviewed for a number of head coach jobs, and it is certainly reasonable to wonder why the Timberwolves ignored a qualified candidate who was already familiar with the organization. Although the team felt it was best to shake things up and bring someone from outside, it seems that Vanterpool at least deserved a chance to come up with his case for the job.