The Minnesota Timberwolves have announced that Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch is their new head coach.
Finch, 51, has been labeled as one of the most creative basketball minds in the NBA. He joined the Raptors as an assistant in December after three years with the New Orleans Pelicans. He has also worked as an assistant for the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets.
Finch was in his first season as an assistant coach in Toronto.
He had spent the past three years with New Orleans (2017-20), including last season as associate head coach.
He has also served as an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16). Finch had two successful seasons (2009-11) as head coach of Houston’s G League affiliate the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He guided the team to consecutive appearances in the G League Finals and amassed a record of 67-33 (.670).
The Vipers captured the 2010 G League Championship and Finch was awarded the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year Award.
Raised in Reading, Pennsylvania, Finch graduated in 1992 as a two-time All-American from Franklin & Marshall College, and was inducted into the F&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
The Timberwolves, who have the worst record in the NBA at 7-24, fired coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday night after the team lost for the eighth time in the last nine games, falling to the New York Knicks 103-99.
Even though it is in mid-season and the Raptors are rolling on a four-game win streak, the club did not stand in the way of someone in their organization getting a promotion. Sources told The Athletic that Finch has been hired on a multi-year deal.
What does Finch bring to the Timberwolves? He comes with a long track record of maximizing offenses.
Finch’s fingerprints all over the Raptors’ offense. Despite losing two centers in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, the Raptors rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency.
Finch’s hiring is seen as crucial bo boost the club’s No. 28-ranked offense.
“Chris brings a wealth of basketball experience from his time in the NBA, G League and Internationally,” Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas said. “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.”
Finch was also the head coach of Great Britain’s National Team from 2006 to 2013, and coached the team in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“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. “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.”
Finch and Rosas have a history together.
Finch worked with the Rockets when Rosas was in the front office. Finch coached the team’s affiliate in what is now called the G League and then became a Rockets assistant.
Dismissing Saunders was the first coaching change in the league since this season began. But coaching changes are nothing new in Minnesota. Finch will become the 10th Timberwolves coach in the past 15 years.
Finch is expected to begin the job Tuesday in Milwaukee.
The Raptors have withstood previous coaching moves without skipping a beat because of the depth of talent throughout the organization.
At the end of the 2017-18 season, Dwane Casey was fired as head coach after the Raptors were ousted from the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third straight year.
This firing was somewhat surprising because Casey went on to be named the NBA’s coach of the year.
The Raptors looked inside their organization for Casey’s successor and promoted assistant coach Nick Nurse, who took the Raptors to the NBA Championship in 2019 in his first season as head coach. Nurse was named the league’s coach of the year in 2019-20.
For the time being, Nurse will take over most of the club’s offensive coaching duties.