Damian Lillard Criticizes Timberwolves for Passing on David Vanterpool Hire

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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. 

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.