After the excitement of last night’s win against the Sixers, the news broke that the Raptors were about to lose their newest assistant coach, Chris Finch.
Actually, let me rewind: first, it was reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves had fired coach Ryan Saunders, son of Flip, a fixture with the organization for some time. The team had just dropped a game to the Knicks, which put them at 7-24 on the year, and drilled them even further into last place. Then it was reported that the Wolves had scooped up their newest head coach, who just happened to be on Toronto’s bench to help them bit the Sixers in Tampa.
Yes, enter Chris Finch.
The Timberwolves asked permission to the Raptors on assistant coach Chris Finch and are proceeding on hiring him as head coach to replace Ryan Saunders, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 22, 2021
We previously covered Finch here when it was reported he’d be joining the Raptors and finally teaming up with his long-time friend and rival Nick Nurse. While he was only with the team for a few months, Finch did have an impact, helping to make the Raptors’ offense look and feel more dynamic — while Nurse figured out which players to use on a nightly basis and tuned up the defense. In all, it’s a shame that Finch and Nurse won’t get to carry on together with the Raptors into the playoffs, but it’s also clear that Finch was always overqualified to be an assistant. At least he got to see the team get over .500 for the first time this year.
Taking in the bigger picture here, it’s remarkable how quickly the Nick Nurse coaching tree has grown in the NBA. This is just his third year as a head coach in the league, and already former assistant Nate Bjorkgren has taken a head coaching position, and now Finch. Meanwhile, another assistant, Sergio Scariolo, is currently in Spain working with their national team as its head coach. The Raptors are cool for having something of an open door policy in this regard. If there’s a promotion or opportunity out there, Toronto is at least open to letting their assistants pursue it. But now, come to think of it, who else is coaching the Raptors right now?
To answer that question, we look back down the bench: Adrian Griffin is still one of the Raptors’ chief assistants, and they’ve got Jama Mahlalela, who will likely move up a spot in the coaching heirarchy. Meanwhile, as Blake Murphy has pointed out, the G League season is not going to be a long one, so we could see Patrick Mutombo and the rest of the 905 crew with the Raptors in short order. In all, don’t expect any splashy assistant coach hirings any time soon.
All we can do now is wish Chris Finch the best of luck in Minnesota — he may very well need it — and continue on.