Ryan Saunders has coached his way into a permanent gig with the Timberwolves and will become the youngest head coach in NBA.
Minnesota has promoted Saunders to head coach after he served as the interim during the second half of the 2018-19 season, The Athletic reported Monday.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2019
Saunders, 33, took over for Minnesota after the team fired Tom Thibodeau in January and posted a 17-25 record.
Karl-Anthony Towns is one of several T-wolves players who have supported Saunders and said he has done “a lot to earn” the position and that he would be a “great candidate” (via the Duluth News Tribune).
“Ryan is just an extremely positive guy,” Tyus Jones said last month. “He’s someone who connects, I think, with the players, and that’s something I think everyone has noticed. … Both on and off the court, just a down-to-earth, great guy. So when he took over, I think that translated. Guys want to play for him, want to give their all, and I think he just connects with the guys really well.”
Team veteran Taj Gibson added: “A lot of players need encouragement, a lot of players need to be held accountable, but I think he’s a guy capable of doing it. He’s been doing a great job. He’s a great role model, especially to have around. You see the way he communicates. He really pushes players. I think he’ll be fine.”
Last week it was reported Minnesota president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas would meet with Heat assistant Juwan Howard and Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool as part of the team’s coaching search.
However, Rosas is sticking with the son of franchise legend Flip Saunders, who coached the 11 seasons in Minnesota.
Prior to joining Minnesota alongside his father as an assistant in 2014, Ryan Saunders spent five seasons as an assistant on his father’s staff with the Wizards.