NBA Coaches Association Criticizes T'Wolves Hiring Process, Cites Need for 'Level Playing Field'

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The National Basketball Coaches Association released a statement on Wednesday expressing disappointment in the Timberwolves for the hiring process of their new coach Chris Finch.

"The NBCA understands and respects each organization's right to hire and fire whomever and whenever it comes," the statement said. "But it is also our responsibility to point out when an organization fails to conduct a thorough and transparent search of candidates from a wide range of diverse backgrounds."

"We must establish a level laying field and equal access to opportunity for all coaching candidates." 

The Timberwolves were criticized across the NBA on Sunday when they fired head coach Ryan Saunders before hiring his replacement, Raptors assistant Chris Finch, that same night. 

Blazers point guard Damian Lillard took to Twitter and expressed his disappointment in the Timberwolves not promoting assistant coach and defensive coordinator David Vanterpool. Minnesota's assistant coach previously worked with with the Trailblazers from 2012 to 2019. 

"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."

Vanterpool, who is Black, is respected across the league and played a major role in the backcourt development of Lillard and C.J. McCollum. There are currently only seven Black coaches in the NBA.

Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns expressed his surprise in Saunders's firing and the subsequent hiring of Finch on Tuesday. Towns also voiced his opinion on diversity in NBA coaching.

"I'd be remiss if I didn't come on here and mention the amazing work that men of color are doing in this world, Towns told ESPN. "Not only in every other sport and through social justice and every other part of this world and in the organization or whatever the case may be, but for basketball."

"For what my job is, there's a lot of amazing men of color out there that deserve the opportunity to lead a team and to run an organization and have a chance to make their mark in this league not with a jersey on but with a suit on. And, I say that with meaning."

"But, like I said, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing work David Vanterpool has put in, and as a man who looks like me, I can't wait to see him get a job where he can flourish and be a head coach and run a team," Towns continued. "We're so honored and blessed to have him here on this coaching staff and get to continue learning from him and soak up all the wisdom and experience he has from playing professional and also from being a coach."

The Timberwolves have the worst record in the NBA this season at 7-25. Vanterpool has been with Minnesota since the 2019–20 season.