The Minnesota Timberwolves are having nowhere near the amount of success that the Toronto Raptors are having in 2020-21, and they’ve decided to shake things up by firing head coach Ryan Saunders, the son of the late, great Flip Saunders. Minnesota replaced him immediately, passing over associate head coach David Vanterpool and hiring Raptors assistant Chris Finch.
Finch is by no means unqualified, as he is regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the NBA and has spent the last decade as either an assistant or associate head coach in Houston, Denver, New Orleans, and Toronto. Still, Vanterpool has a history with this organization, and he could’ve used this as a chance to get promoted.
With Finch potentially bringing in a whole new staff, a group that might not include a well-respected assistant like Vanterpool, the 47-year old might be coaching somewhere else at this time next season.
The Raptors need to replace Finch after he was finally given his first chance as the main man in Minnesota. Though Vanterpool was passed over for this job, Toronto should make a play for him as Finch’s replacement. Not only would he fill the void Finch created, but he could use Nick Nurse’s staff as a jumping-off point that could land him a head coaching job.
David Vanterpool could use the Raptors as a springboard
Vanterpool, who was a very successful player in Russia, was an assistant coach with highly-respected club CSKA Moscow before being named the Oklahoma City Thunder’s director of player personnel in 2010. Vanterpool moved to the Portland Trail Blazers’ bench in 2012, serving as an assistant for almost a decade before going to Minnesota in 2019.
Among Vanterpoool’s greatest accomplishments as Terry Stotts’ right-hand man was the development of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Under his watch, those two evolved from high-volume scorers from mid-major conferences into one of the nastiest backcourt tandems in the entire NBA.
Lillard voiced his outrage after Vanderpool was passed up on Twitter. Even though Portland and Minnesota are divisional rivals, Lillard thinks that Vanterpool’s years of experience and proven record of success in developing guards into superstars should’ve given him the edge over Finch.
While Vanterpool’s on-the-job performance is nothing to sneeze at, Minnesota must not have seen enough from him to grant him the job over Finch. The league has shown they clearly value Nurse disciples through the hirings of Finch and Bjorkgren.
In Toronto, Vanterpool could get as much or more control as compared to what he had in Minnesota while remaining a very attractive candidate for future head coaching jobs.
Vanterpool has more than paid his dues in the NBA, but Finch appears to have won over the hearts of the Minnesota front office. With an opportunity to join Toronto, a team that has helped two coaches get HC jobs in the last four months, potentially giving Vanterpool more control and upward mobility, Vanterpool could be on his way to the Raptors.