The Minnesota Timberwolves decision to fire head coach Ryan Saunders late Sunday evening wasn’t necessarily too surprising. Saunders proved to be in over his head in that role after a 7-24 start to the 2020-21 NBA season. All said, Saunders finished 43-94 as the Wolves’ head coach.
It’s Minnesota’s decision to seek a long-term replacement from outside of the organization that had a lot of people shaking their heads. Nearly immediately after the Saunders firing, the Timberwolves hired Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch and signed him to a multi-year deal.
This is almost unprecedented in professional sports. Firing a head coach in the middle of the season, only to replace him with someone from outside of the organization. All the while, Minnesota had a top assistant coach candidate to become the interim head man in David Vanterpool. Players from around the NBA were not happy. That includes King James.
LeBron James calls out Minnesota Timberwolves over head coach decision
The boisterous James did not even have to say a word for us to understand what he meant here. He was responding to former teammate Kendrick Perkins talking about the lack of diversity within NBA front offices, which some believe has led to the lack of African-American head coaches.
As for the Minnesota Timberwolves decision to go with an outside candidate over David Vanterpool, it must be noted that president Gersson Rosas expects to retain Ryan Saunders’ assistants. Whether Vanterpool is interested in this possibility long-term remains to be seen.
Vanterpool, 47, has been an assistant in the NBA since 2012. He initially served in that role with the Portland Trail Blazers from 2012-19 before joining Saunders’ staff with the Minnesota Timberwolves as an associate head coach. He’s widely respected around NBA circles.
James’ decision to call out the Timberwolves comes less than 24 hours after Blazers stars Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum did the same on social media.
For the sake of clarity, there are currently seven minority head coaches in the NBA today. Take that for what it is worth.