Trail Blazers

Lillard, McCollum put TWolves on blast for overlooking Vanterpool after Saunders firing

Trail Blazers
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After starting out the season 7-24, the Minnesota Timberwolves have fired head coach Ryan Saunders, the team announced Sunday night.

But there’s no interim coach in the meantime. Instead, the team has reportedly asked for permission from the Toronto Raptors to speak with their assistant coach Chris Finch and are looking to officially hire Finch on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

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But, there are many in the NBA world who believe there was already a very qualified coach currently on the Minnesota staff.

And many within the Trail Blazers organization don’t understand why the Timberwolves wouldn’t hire within.

Enter former Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool.

Vanterpool was hired by the Timberwolves in June of 2019 as an associate head coach to Saunders.


He had been an assistant with Portland since 2012, but it was the associate head coach rank that Vanterpool was looking for as he continued to work his way up in the NBA coaching ranks.

So why didn’t Minnesota give Vanterpool a shot?

That’s what Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard is wondering.

How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool and he’s right there on the bench... and has been in front office SUCCESSFULLY and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) ... and also has played a major role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!

Damian Lillard wrote on Twitter

While Lillard’s backcourt mate CJ McCollum is also trying to understand why the T-Wolves would pass on giving DV a chance.

From 2012-2019 as an assistant with Portland, Vanterpool was largely credited for the development of Lillard and McCollum.

The three were inseparable.

Last season, the Blazers star duo spoke on how they believe it’s only a matter of time until Vanterpool lands a head coaching gig.

Now, it seems Minnesota wasn’t doing its job.

Vanterpool’s name has been brought up for several head coaching vacancies over the past few years.

Lillard and McCollum aren’t the only ones confused by the Timberwolves move to bring in Finch and not promote their associate head coach.

But Finch has ties to the Timberwolves front office.

He and Minnesota’s president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas worked together during their time with the Rockets. Finch was an assistant with Houston from 2011-2016.

Most recently, Finch was hired this season as an assistant for the Raptors.

But now he’ll have even more pressure to turn the Timberwolves program around with so many around the league questioning the hire.