Timberwolves fire Saunders after 7-24 start

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have fired coach Ryan Saunders, the team announced Sunday night.

The Timberwolves have asked the Toronto Raptors permission to speak with assistant coach Chris Finch and are proceeding on hiring him to replace Saunders as head coach, sources told ESPN.

Hiring a coach off another staff during the season is uncommon, but Toronto won’t stand in the way of Finch’s chance to become a head coach. Finch had success as a G-League head coach, and has interviewed for several head coaching jobs in recent years.

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and Finch worked together with the Houston Rockets.

Minnesota has dropped 24 of 31 games to start the season, leaving it with the worst record in the NBA. The Timberwolves have lost eight of their past nine games, including a 103-99 loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday night.

Minnesota was hit hard with injuries and COVID-19 issues this season. Starting guard D’Angelo Russell played 20 games before recently undergoing left knee surgery that’ll sideline him for the next four-to-six weeks. Star Karl-Anthony Towns has only played 11 games this season between a wrist injury and contracting COVID-19.

“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 in a statement. “These are difficult decisions to make, however this change is in the best interest of the organization’s short and long-term goals.”

Saunders was 43-95 as coach of the Timberwolves in two-plus seasons.

Minnesota travels to play Milwaukee on Tuesday night.

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