The Minnesota Timberwolves fired coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday night, hours after the team with the NBA’s worst record this season lost for the eighth time in the last nine games.
A person with knowledge of the situation said that the Timberwolves were finalizing plans to introduce Toronto assistant Chris Finch as the new coach Monday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Finch’s hiring has not been formally completed.
ESPN first reported Saunders’ dismissal and The Athletic first reported Finch’s looming hiring.
Saunders was with the Timberwolves for parts of three seasons, going 43-94. Minnesota has the league’s worst record this season at 7-24 and is already 7 1/2 games out of what would be the final play-in spot for the Western Conference postseason.
“We would like to thank Ryan for his time and commitment to the Timberwolves organization and wish him the best in the future,” Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson 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 — who doesn’t turn 35 until April — is the son of longtime Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, the winningest coach in franchise history. Flip Saunders died in 2015.
Dismissing Saunders is the first coaching change in the league since this season began. There were nine coaches in new jobs entering this season.