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Timberwolves facing criticism for manner of Ryan Saunders' firing

The Wolves already had his replacement lined up.
Ryan Saunders

It's a new dawn at the Minnesota Timberwolves, who fired head coach Ryan Saunders and replaced him with Chris Finch in the space of minutes on Monday evening.

It brought an end to Saunders' two-year tenure as head coach of the Wolves, having taken over on an interim basis following Tom Thibodeau's firing in January 2019, signing a permanent deal that spring.

But the manner of his firing is not sitting well with all, with the announcement that Saunders had been fired coming shortly after the Wolves' 103-99 loss to the Knicks in New York City.

To add insult to injury, news broke that Finch would be his replacement on a multi-year deal just minutes later, suggesting that the decision to replace Saunders with Finch had been made prior to the Wolves' trip to New York.

That said, the Star Tribune reported Finch was known to president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas from their time in Houston, and that he'd also been interviewed in 2019 as part of Saunders' hiring process.

Some prominent voices have argued that Saunders should have been afforded a more orderly and respectful exit than he received.

Washington Post sports enterprise reporter Michael Lee tweeted: "I'm not saying Ryan Saunders was going to be the coach to lead Minnesota anywhere, but for him to get canned & the Wolves to hire a coach from outside the organization to a multi-year deal the same night he coached a game is shadier than standing under a tree."

A little over 10 minutes after The Athletic reported that Saunders, a Minnesota native who is the son of the legendary former Wolves coach Flip, had been fired, the Wolves posted a "Thank You" graphic on its Twitter page.

This was noticed by FOX 9 digital sports reporter Jeff Wald, who described it as "classless."

KSTP's Darren Wolfson also suggested that it might have been more prudent to give Saunders his marching orders prior to leaving for the road trip.

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