Damian Lillard Criticizes Timberwolves for Passing on David Vanterpool Hire MICHAEL SHAPIRO FEB 22, 2021
Blazers guard Damian Lillard criticized the Timberwolves on Sunday for passing over assistant David Vanterpool as they searched for a new head coach.
The Timberwolves fired former head coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday night after two seasons as Minnesota's head coach. They officially hired Toronto assistant Chris Finch shortly thereafter, bypassing current Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool in the process.
Vanterpool, who is Black, previously worked as an assistant coach in Portland from 2013-19. He was hired as Minnesota's associate head coach in 2019, additionally working as the team's defensive coordinator. Vanterpool is also credited with being instrumental in Lillard and C.J. McCollum's development in Portland.
"How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool and he's right there on the bench," Lillard wrote on Twitter. "... And has been in front office successfully and on the front of a bench of a winning team successfully."
McCollum backed Lillard on Twitter, as did a number of prominent figures around the league. There are currently just seven Black head coaches in the NBA.
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Finch's hiring didn't come as a total surprise despite the frustration over Vanterpool's snub. Finch served as an assistant in Houston from 2011-16, working with current Timberwolves general manager Gerson Rosas. Finch was a Raptors' assistant in 2020–21 after three years with the Pelicans.
The Timberwolves enter Monday night last in the Western Conference at 7–24. They have missed the postseason in 16 of the last 17 seasons.
1. "Kevin Pelton on Hoop Collective pod said it hasnt happened since 1984(!)" In response to Reply # 0
>it is different for a team to go outside the organization for >a midseason here...
he very pointedly commented that this was a *highly* unusual move and said he couldn't think of a comparable move happening before in his time covering the league or before that as a fan, had to go digging in the archives to find the last time it happened.
Windhorst concurred and said in situations like this if the team decides to make a coaching change mid-season they will typically promote an assistant in-house and ride that out for the remainder of the season to see what they have with them and continue to assess the situation, and then if they still want to go outside the organization they will do that in the off-season. but doing it like this is basically unheard of, especially with an assistant as qualified and well-respected and highly regarded by players right there in-house. he said he had further thoughts on what could be inferred from this but said he would defer to Marc Spears who was guesting on the podcast.