Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas received what seemed to be deserved criticism in late February of last season when he fired Ryan Saunders as coach and then did not conduct a search before naming Toronto assistant Chris Finch as his coach 11 hours later.
It was clear this deal had been in the works.
There certainly had to be other candidates whom Rosas didn’t consider in his haste to hire Finch. So what was the rush? Turns out Rosas knew exactly what he was doing. Seven months after Rosas was fired by the Wolves for reasons that had nothing to do with his basketball decisions, Finch was signed to a contract extension on Monday. The deal is for three years with a fourth-year option, according to Darren (Doogie) Wolfson of SKOR North and KSTP-TV.
Finch has been a home run hire and it’s now clear that Rosas feared not immediately hiring a veteran coach he worked with in Houston might have led to Finch landing elsewhere. Finch, 52, had started as head coach of the Sheffield Sharks in the British Basketball League in 1997 and then coached in Germany and Belgium before landing in the NBA D-League. He became an assistant with the Rockets in 2011 and also had assistant stints with the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans and Raptors before being hired by the Wolves.
Finch arrived in Minnesota known for his ability to coach offense and he hasn’t disappointed. The Wolves finished the regular season first in points and three-pointers made. Most importantly, the Wolves won 46 games to finish seventh in the Western Conference and will play host to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in the NBA’s play-in tournament. A win over the Clippers will set up a first-round playoff matchup against Memphis. A loss would mean the Wolves would play the winner of the New Orleans-San Antonio play-in game on Friday for a chance to meet Phoenix in the opening round.
The Wolves will be looking to make the postseason for only the second time since 2003-04 and Finch deserves a lot of the credit for that. He’s provided stability to a franchise that has long needed it and his approach has won over guys like Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell. Finch should be in the running for NBA Coach of The Year.
Finch’s approach seems to work because he’s comfortable with who he is and isn’t trying to act the part of a coach. The only question by February 2021 was when was Finch finally going to get his opportunity?
Rosas knew if he didn’t give Finch this chance, somebody else would and was willing to take criticism to make sure that didn’t happen.
- Now that Finch’s contract extension is done, it will be interesting to see if the Wolves promote Sachin Gupta from executive vice president of basketball operations to president of basketball operations.
- Carlos Correa’s home run into the third deck at Target Field on Sunday was impressive, but the best part about watching him play an entire season in Minnesota might be watching how good and smart he is defensively. Correa made a handful of nice plays, including a perfect relay throw to get a runner at home plate, in the season-opening series against Seattle.
- Starters Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer are set to make their Twins debuts on Monday and Tuesday against the Mariners and Dodgers, respectively. The Twins’ game against the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon will have an interesting pitching matchup as Clayton Kershaw goes against another new acquisition in former Padres starter Chris Paddack. The forecast calls for morning showers on Wednesday before it’s expected to clear.
- Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov has tied Marian Gaborik (2007-08) and Eric Staal’s (2017-18) single-season team record of 42 goals, and Kaprizov’s 89 points already are a single-season mark for the franchise. Kaprizov now has 11 games in which to chase 100 points and 50 goals. In his past 11 games, Kaprizov has 10 goals and 13 points, so both marks are very much within reach.
- While Wild coach Dean Evason was clearly unhappy to see his team fall behind 3-0 only 10:17 into Sunday’s game against the Kings, he also knew that the fact his team rallied for a 6-3 victory provided him with the perfect opportunity to use the win as a teaching lesson for what happens when the Wild doesn’t come out prepared for a game. The timing for such a lesson couldn’t have been better with the playoffs so close. You start a playoff game as poorly as the Wild did on Sunday and odds are you are going to lose.
- Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury debuted his new Wild mask design on Sunday, but he went back to the pads he was wearing when he arrived in the trade deadline deal with Chicago. Fleury said he wanted to wear his new Wild pads in a few more practices before giving them another shot.
- The latest ESPN mock draft, this one a seven-rounder by Jordan Reid, has the Vikings taking LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., with the 12th pick in the first round. Stingley has missed 13 games in the past two seasons after an impressive freshman season and was out for a portion of last year because of a torn ligament in his left foot. Stingley did put on an impressive performance at his Pro Day last week. Several scouts reportedly clocked his 40-yard dash at 4.37 seconds and his official time of 4.44 was still very good. It might be surprising if Stingley falls to the 12th pick after he showed he was healthy.