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Timberwolves’ Chris Finch Hiring Highlights Issue surrounding NBA Coaching Diversity

Photo Credit: Morry Gash/Associated Press

To say the past week for the Toronto Raptors has been chaotic would be an understatement. After playing three months and being one of the four teams to have not had a game moved, the Raptors had their matchup against the Bulls postponed on Sunday, and played the Pistons without their coach and two top scorers.

With many adjustments made this past week, Coach Nurse also had to make a few changes before much of the issues surrounding the team’s health dominated the subject. Nurse assumed offensive duties after assistant coach, Chris Finch was hired to become the new head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves on February, 22nd.

Finch, who was in his first year with the Raptors had been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2011, and spent a decade before that coaching internationally in Belgium, Germany and Britain. As his coaching tree begins to grow, coach Nurse is and has always spoke highly of Chris Finch, calling him a “hell of a coach,” and “one of the best offensive minds in the NBA.”

The Timberwolves have endured a tough season, recording the worst record in the association thus far. After losing four in a row, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations, Gersson Rosas decided that he needed to make a change. While it is most common to see an internal candidate promoted when an in-season firing occurs, the Timberwolves were set on Finch and received permission from the Raptors, ultimately signing him to a multi-year contract.

Rosas feels the hire will help both sides of the ball and believes that Finch’s, “experiences are very relevant to our current game.” While the Timberwolves “got their guy”, the hiring of Chris Finch highlights a bigger issue surrounding the lack of representation among coaches in the NBA.

“Fire Ryan. Hire Finch on the same day. Pass over David Vanterpool. Crazy. Shaking my head,” one black NBA coach told Undefeated reporter Marc Spears. Spears spoke to a number of players and coaches who were “disappointed” with the Timberwolves and the way they handled the process.

It appears that the Timberwolves failed to go through any type of interview process and never fielded a pool of qualified candidates for the job. While Rosas said they considered their internal candidates, including assistant coach David Vanterpool, who is more than qualified for the job, the team quickly agreed to a deal with Finch.

Spears and many of the NBA personnel he spoke too emphasized the opportunity that an interim-job can lead to. Cavs coach, J.B. Bickerstaff and Rockets coach, Stephen Silas both turned their interim roles into full-time positions. A path-way and opportunity that Vanterpool won’t get this year given the outside hiring of Finch.

The National Coaches Association, led by Dallas Mavericks coach, Rick Carlisle also released a statement raising concern at the process the Timberwolves engaged in. The association accused the Timberwolves of failing, “to conduct a thorough and transparent search of candidates from a wide range of diverse backgrounds.”

The statement points at a bigger issue in the NBA. A league in which 75% of its players are black, only seven (or 23%) of the 30 head coaches are also black. The issue is nothing new, after controversy arose regarding Steve Nash’s hiring with the Brooklyn Nets this past fall. Outspoken ESPN reporter, Stephen A. Smith even went as far as to call it “white privilege.”

With that being said, the NBA certainly has more work to do to level the playing field and increase opportunity for all candidates, as the Coaching Association said.

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