The Minnesota Timberwolves, who have an NBA-worst 7-24 record, fired head coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday.
The news came about 90 minutes after Minnesota’s latest loss, a 103-99 road defeat to the New York Knicks on the same day.
Saunders became Minnesota’s interim coach during the 2018-19 season, replacing current Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.
Saunders was 43-94 with the Timberwolves.
“Tom Thibodeau’s first game against his former team turned out to be the last one for Ryan Saunders,” The Associated Press noted in its game report.
The Timberwolves suffered their fourth straight defeat in Saunders’ last game in charge.
What’s more, they have dropped eight of their last nine games.
New leadership for Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch is set to replace the 34-year-old Saunders, according to published reports.
The 51-year-old Finch is in his first season with the Raptors. He is “widely considered an offensive mastermind,” Sports Illustrated reported.
Timberwolves management delivers the news
Team president Gersson Rosas issued a statement to reflect on the end of the Saunders era.
“We would like to thank Ryan for his time and commitment to the Timberwolves organization and wish him the best in the future,” Rosas said. “These are difficult decisions to make. However, this change is in the best interest of the organization’s short and long-term goals.”
Like father, like son … with Timberwolves
Ryan Saunders’ late father, Flip, coached the Minnesota Timberwolves from 1995-2005 and again from 2014-15.
Which is why team owner Glen Taylor mentioned it when he commented on Saunders’ departure.
“In this particular case, I’ve known Ryan since he was a young man and all that, so there’s more to it than just coaching,” Taylor told twincities.com. “It’s the friendship and the history and all that that makes it tougher.”
Coming off a lousy season
The Timberwolves went 19-45 in the pandemic-interrupted 2019-20 campaign.
This season, top stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have missed considerable playing time. They’ve played together in only five games since Minnesota acquired Russell from the Golden State Warriors last year.
Building for the future
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected shooting guard Anthony Edwards (University of Georgia) with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft in November.