On Sunday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves relieved Ryan Saunders of his head coaching duties and replaced him with Chris Finch, who was serving as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
Shortly after Finch's hire was reported, a number of NBA players expressed their disappointment that David Vanterpool wasn't given a shot as the Timberwolves' interim head coach. Vanterpool is Minnesota's associate head coach and he's interviewed for a number of NBA head-coaching jobs in recent years.
The player who led the charge was Damian Lillard, who played under Vanterpool for seven years when he was an assistant coach on the Portland Trail Blazers. (Vanterpool played a crucial role in the development of Lillard and CJ McCollum).
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 (@Dame_Lillard) February 22, 2021
I don’t know him to have nothin against him. Congrats to him... but I’m sorry Vanterpool is a coach that I know for sure is needed in these locker rooms. I speak the real ...not favorites... respectfully https://t.co/vtvsYfK1d2— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) February 22, 2021
Because the defensive coach isn’t always in full control of what the team does defensively. They’re in charge of managing and coaching what the head coach wants.teams defense is not always a direct indication of the defensive coach. I’m IN the game. You watch it ... respectfully https://t.co/1YDRODlLDD— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) February 22, 2021
Other players were quick to agree with Lillard and chimed in on Twitter.
Make it make sense. Respectfully. https://t.co/4crtNzWV0W— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) February 22, 2021
That shit really crazy slim 🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/GHsnePEkYQ— Quinn Cook (@QCook323) February 22, 2021
He’s the 1st person i thought would get that opportunity... Damn! https://t.co/5dgQetFBPi— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) February 22, 2021
Straight up @Dame_Lillard !!! 🗣🗣🗣🗣 https://t.co/y3pGLohOBE— Nolan Smith (@NdotSmitty) February 22, 2021
Just another qualified African American assistant coach not getting an opportunity!!! https://t.co/reilQ5eiZK— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) February 22, 2021
Vanterpool played overseas for many years prior to making the transition to coaching. He's widely regarded as one of the best up-and-coming assistants in the NBA.
The Timberwolves are currently 7-24, which is the worst record in the NBA. Minnesota has the NBA's 20th-ranked defense (allowing 110.3 points per 100 possessions) and the 28th-ranked offense (scoring 103.7 points per 100 possessions).