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Timberwolves fire Ryan Saunders, reportedly will name Raptors assistant as their new coach

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Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders calls out to his team in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 96-88. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

The Timberwolves fired Ryan Saunders as coach on Sunday night following a 103-99 loss to the Knicks that dropped the Wolves to an NBA-worst 7-24 on the season.

While the Wolves did not make an announcement on a new coach, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Minnesota is hiring Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch on a multi-year contract. The Raptors beat the Wolves on Friday night at Target Center.

“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.”

Saunders replaced Tom Thibodeau, who now coaches the Knicks, as the Wolves’ interim coach in January 2019. Saunders was the NBA’s youngest coach at 32, but owner Glen Taylor decided to stick with him when he hired Gersson Rosas to become the Wolves’ president of basketball operations in May 2019.

In two-plus seasons as the Wolves coach, Saunders went 43-95.

Finch, 51, has been an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans. He was hired by the Raptors in December. Rosas is very familiar with Finch from their time together in Houston. Finch was with the Rockets from 2011 to 2016.

In a press release announcing Saunders’ dismissal on Sunday night, the Wolves said that additional details surrounding the announcement of the next Wolves head coach would be made on Monday.