Sports Nurse happy for Finch, the latest Raptors assistant to earn an NBA head coach job
Wolves hire Chris Finch as coach, after firing Ryan Saunders
MINNEAPOLIS — For the 10th time in the past 15 years, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a new head coach. Toronto assistant Chris Finch was introduced Monday as the replacement for Ryan Saunders, who was fired the night before with the team carrying the NBA’s worst record. “We have excellent pieces in place, and I can’t wait to get to work," Finch said in a statement distributed by the Timberwolves, before he was scheduled to meet the team in Milwaukee prior to playing there Tuesday. President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas made the change on the bench to the 51-year-old Finch, who was in his first season with the Raptors.
Four months after he lost Nate Bjorkgren to the Indiana Pacers, Nick Nurse finds himself short an assistant coach once again.
Nurse's longtime friend Chris Finch is the new head coach of the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Toronto Raptors coach deflected any praise Monday for the success of his assistants, saying the promotions are more a product of team's success. But Nurse said he enjoys seeing his friends and colleagues thrive.
"I'm super happy for those guys. I think that their dreams of becoming head coaches in the NBA are important to me, and I want to help them get there," Nurse said Monday.
NBCA says it has 'concern' about T-wolves' coaching change
CHICAGO — The leadership of the National Basketball Coaches Association spoke out Wednesday about its “concern and level of disappointment” with the way the Minnesota Timberwolves went about their coaching change earlier this week. The statement came from NBCA president Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks and NBCA executive director David Fogel. “The NBCA understands and respects each organization’s right to hire and fire whomever and whenever it chooses,” said their statement, first released only to ESPN before being distributed to other outlets.
Bjorkgren, also a longtime friend of Nurse's who had coached in Toronto since 2018, left in the fall. Finch was hired as his replacement in December, and it's unlikely he even stepped foot in Toronto, with Canada's COVID-19 border restrictions and the team playing out of Tampa.
Nurse said the Finch deal came together in about 36 hours and he knew the team's game Sunday against Philadelphia was going to be Finch's last. Finch was the designated coach for the halftime television broadcast interview, and then the news broke about the T-Wolves hiring soon after the Raptors' 110-103 win.
"I feel like I'm in the same seat I was three months ago, right? He was here and he was gone," Nurse said after Monday's practice.
Nurse and the 51-year-old Finch first became friends as rival coaches in Britain's pro league, and then coached the British national team together.
Timberwolves fire Saunders after parts of 3 seasons as coach
The Minnesota Timberwolves fired coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday night, hours after the team with the NBA’s worst record this season lost for the eighth time in the last nine games. A person with knowledge of the situation said that the Timberwolves were finalizing plans to introduce Toronto assistant Chris Finch as the new coach Monday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Finch’s hiring has not been formally completed. ESPN first reported Saunders’ dismissal and The Athletic first reported Finch’s looming hiring.
"I've always seen it as my job to try to get people to maximize their career ambitions. I try to speak about them when I get a chance, and whenever I get calls about them, I certainly try to promote them along," Nurse said.
"I don't think they would be here in the first place if I didn't really believe in 'em. I think we've been lucky that we've had so many guys with head coaching experience and guys I feel that can be head coaches in the league."
Nurse once described Finch as one of the brightest offensive minds in the game, and so, at least in the meantime, he planned to take on the offensive responsibilities himself.
After their woeful 2-8 start to the season, the Raptors are one of the hottest teams in the league, winning seven of their last 10 games to climb to fifth in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors' success over the past few years has made members of their coaching staff attractive to opposing teams, Nurse said.
Raptors rookie Flynn first player this season to play in G League and NBA in same day
Not long after playing 33 minutes in the Raptors 905 victory over Salt Lake City on Thursday in Florida, Malachi Flynn was the only passenger on a private luxury jet headed to Milwaukee. The Toronto Raptors rookie guard is the first player this season to complete the double: playing in G League and NBA games on the same day. The private plane allowed Flynn to avoid a quarantine after being recalled. "It was the smallest plane I've ever been on,The Toronto Raptors rookie guard is the first player this season to complete the double: playing in G League and NBA games on the same day.
"It's pretty common in most sports that I'm familiar with anyway," Nurse said. "College basketball, the assistants that are working for top programs move on. NFL, certainly, the co-ordinators that are working for the teams that are putting up wins and deep runs and numbers on that side of the ball move on to head coaching jobs.
"I just think that's a reflective of the overall organization and what we've done."
Finch was introduced Monday as the replacement for Ryan Saunders, who was fired the night before with the team carrying the NBA’s worst record.
“We have excellent pieces in place, and I can’t wait to get to work," Finch said in a statement distributed by the Timberwolves.
Toronto split a pair of games against Minnesota earlier this month.
The Raptors host Philadelphia again on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2021.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
Aaron Kromer is 7th assistant to leave Rams' coaching staff .
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Rams say they have mutually parted ways with Aaron Kromer, their offensive line coach and running game co-ordinator. The Rams on Thursday confirmed the departure of Kromer, who had been with the team since head coach Sean McVay's first season in 2017. Kromer added the title of running game co-ordinator in 2018. Aaron Kromer is the seventh assistant coach to leave McVay's staff in the last 4 1/2 weeks since the Rams'The Rams on Thursday confirmed the departure of Kromer, who had been with the team since head coach Sean McVay's first season in 2017. Kromer added the title of running game co-ordinator in 2018.