The Minnesota Timberwolves have finally sacked their head coach, Ryan Saunders. They sit rock-bottom in the West, and to solve this, they have hired Toronto Raptors’ assistant coach Chris Finch. But this appointment has left Damian Lillard upset. The Portland Trail Blazers star took to Twitter to express his disappointment with the situation.
Lillard was vouching for David Vanterpool, the current associate head coach at Minnesota. Despite already being familiar with the team and being an assistant in the league since 2012, the Timberwolves overlooked him. Vanterpool joined the Timberwolves at the start of the 2019-20 season, after seven years with the Trail Blazers.
The front office changes came after the Timberwolves lost to the Knicks on Sunday night. It was their fourth loss in a row and 24th of the season. Saunders was likely to lose his job soon, but this firing and hiring came suddenly and was announced within hours.
Damian Lillard and his relationship with Coach Vanterpool
After being an assistant coach in the EuroLeague with CSKA Moscow, Vanterpool joined the Trail Blazers in 2012. The appointment came just two months after the Blazers drafted Lillard. Vanterpool was one of the first coaches Lillard worked with in the NBA, and they formed a close relationship.
When Vanterpool left in 2019 to join the Timberwolves, Lillard uploaded an emotional post on Instagram. It was a series of pictures of him with Vanterpool, with the caption, “The day I never wanted to see in my career has arrived. @david_vanterpool … no words.”
Before the 2020-21 season began, Lillard put up another tweet showing his support for Vanterpool. He spoke about how teams were failing to do their job well if they didn’t hire Vanterpool.
The 47-year-old has applied for multiple head coach vacancies over the years but sadly never got the job. This was his best chance at the top job, but after the Timberwolves snubbed him, it is likely that he will step down. New arrival Finch should try to hold on to Vanterpool since he knows the team well, and could be of great help, as they attempt to rescue the Timberwolves’ season.
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