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The Timberwolves Hour-Long Coaching Search is Shady and the NBA Should Be Mad

Ryan Saunders during a recent game.
Ryan Saunders during a recent game. | Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves fired Ryan Saunders on Sunday night and then announced the hiring of Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch. It all happened so fast. Too fast, really. And the NBA should have a lot of questions about a situation that seem to have very obvious answers.

The New York Knicks beat the Timberwolves, 103-99, in a very quick game that ended a little after 9:30pm Eastern. Following the game the Timberwolves fired their head coach, Ryan Saunders. The first tweets about it came out around 11pm. By 11:08 p.m., Sham Charnania was reporting that the Timberwolves were hiring Raptors assistant Chris Finch.

So how did the Timberwolves do a full coaching search and negotiate a multi-year deal in an hour and a half? Yeah. Finch was on the bench with the Raptors until around 9:42pm. So unless he was on the phone on the bench during the game like a Michigan Man ordering pizza, they didn't even have a full 90 minutes to discuss the decision. Or think about moving from Toronto (er, Tampa) to Minneapolis.

So it stands to reason the two parties had worked something out before the game. The Raptors visited Minnesota on Friday. Then the Timberwolves let Saunders get on a plane to New York to travel with the team to start a road trip. Presumably, he packed as much as Ted Cruz did for his most recent trip.

Now, it's not that Saunders didn't warrant a firing. The Timberwolves are 7-24 and have lost eight of their last nine games. Minnesota is 43-94 since he took over during the 2018-2019 season. With Saunders it was when, not if he would be fired. Still, he'd been with the franchise since 2014.

But to bring in an outside candidate in the middle of the season an hour after game? People noticed. People like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

The Blazers' backcourt was quick to point out that Minnesota passed over a qualified internal candidate in David Vanterpool. The Timberwolves' current associate head coach spent 2012 to 2019 with the Blazers, coaching Lillard and McCollum. Adam Silver just talked about teams doing a better job interviewing a diverse set of candidates and the Wolves hired a white guy from another team without talking to anyone else.

Woj tweeted that the Timberwolves "asked permission" from the Raptors, but when? This seems to be a clear case of tampering at best. Plus the fact that they completely ignored a minority candidate in their own locker room. The league should not be happy with any of this. Hopefully, Vanterpool gets an opportunity with a better organization in the future.