Newly hired Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch’s international experience and global perspective was what intrigued President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas.
During Monday’s introductory press conference, Rosas welcomed the former Toronto Raptors assistant to try to turn things around after firing Ryan Saunders following Sunday’s loss to the Knicks in New York.
“The things that he has done training around the world at different levels, those experiences, I think, are very relevant to our current game,” Rosas said. “We played a very international game in the NBA, and the experience that Chris has, the perspective that he has, the time that he has been a head coach outside the NBA, an assistant in the NBA as well, I think those perspectives, that experience is really important to our organization on both sides of the floor. “
In addition to Finch’s stops in Houston, Denver, New Orleans and Toronto as an assistant, he also served as the head coach of the Rockets’ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who won the 2010 championship.
Internationally, he trained in England, Germany and Belgium.
“I’d like to be judged on wins and losses. That’s what it’s all about,” Finch said. “It’s about winning and hopefully we can stack some wins on top of each other. Beyond that, we want to see our young players grow and we want to develop an identity. I think if we can get all three, that’s a home run, if we get two out of three, I think it’s a big step forward. “
Although the timing of the hiring is not desirable, with Minnesota in the midst of a four-game losing streak and last in the league standings at 7-24, Finch is trying to make the best of the situation.
“This is a less than ideal situation for a coach, and we don’t have a summer, we don’t have a preseason,” Finch said. “We have a back-to-back, but that’s life in some of the leagues I’ve coached in, and those challenges have really sharpened my determination and my ability to be prepared, and I take it as one right now. I challenge and find out as we go. We will slowly discover the adjustments we need to make. “
Rosas described Sunday as a “crazy day for everyone involved.” He called the decision to fire Saunders “difficult” but said the decision to make a change was made over the weekend.
The Timberwolves’ front office went through the process of who would be available midseason, but was still unsure until Toronto granted permission to allow Finch to interview for the new role, which happened Sunday afternoon. The decision to relieve Saunders came after the Knicks’ loss.
The deal was closed on Monday morning.
“The decision to fire Ryan was not made until Sunday, and at that point, we were already in preparation for the game, and to be fair to Ryan, these decisions take time,” Rosas said. “We spoke with the property, and when we met with our leadership group, it was a process and a decision that was not easy and you have a team that is going through the season in a pandemic where there is no pause button.
“There is no stop button, there are shooting practices and games that you have to be prepared for. And we did the best we could in the time environment they gave us.”
Rosas said they considered insider options like David Vanterpool and Pablo Prigioni on the staff, but were realistic in terms of their position in the league. Rosas did not believe they could achieve the real change they needed without being “bold and direct with this opportunity.”
“With Chris, we have a man here with whom we share a vision, we share a philosophy and we feel very confident in his ability to impact this team,” Rosas said. “And unfortunately, with our struggles here for the last year and a half, the ability to change that narrative was going to be difficult from an internal perspective.”
“I haven’t heard a lot of the outside feedback, just because it’s been a real whirlwind for 24 hours for me,” Finch added. “I can say that I am very excited and I enjoy every day that I have in the NBA. I live the dream.”
The Timberwolves will face the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.