Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas is expanding the search for a head coach, but that doesn’t mean Rosas has eliminated interim coach Ryan Saunders from getting the job.
Rosas will interview at least four candidates — Miami assistant Juwan Howard, Portland assistant David Vanterpool, New Orleans associate head coach Chris Finch and Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham — a source confirmed to the Star Tribune.
Even though Rosas is interviewing multiple people for the position, Saunders remains a strong candidate for the job.
Rosas will be in Chicago the next few days representing the Wolves at the draft lottery and combine, but a source said Rosas should make a decision on the head coaching position possibly by the end of the week or over the weekend.
Last week Rosas spent several hours over three days discussing the position with Saunders. Their discussions ranged from personnel to style of play, player development, building an assistant coaching staff and how to modernize the Wolves’ offense into an up-tempo efficient offense.
But their conversations haven’t just dealt with issues on the court. They have discussed the importance of communication, leadership and how best to succeed in the Minnesota market in collaboration with other aspects of the organization, the source said.
Of the four candidates Rosas is interviewing, Finch, 49, is an intriguing one given his ties to Rosas. The two worked together previously in Houston where Finch was an assistant coach from 2011 to 2016. He served one season in Denver before joining the staff in New Orleans the last two seasons. Before becoming an assistant in Houston, Finch also worked two seasons as the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G-League affiliate.
Rosas played a big part in developing talent and implementing systems and style of play in the G-League when he was with Houston. Finch and the Vipers won a G-League title in 2009-10.
Howard, 46, was a member of Michigan’s famed Fab Five who played 19 seasons in the league. He has been an assistant in Miami since retiring after the 2012-13 season.
Vanterpool, 46, went to St. Bonaventure and played 22 games for the Wizards in 2001 but played primarily in China and Europe. He has been an assistant in Portland since 2013.
Ham, 45, served two seasons as an assistant with the Lakers and five with the Hawks before joining the Bucks staff under Mike Budenholzer this season. The Bucks are about to play the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals. Ham played in parts of eight seasons from 1996 to 2005.ESPN first reported Howard and Vanterpool’s interviews, the New York Times first reported Finch’s while the Athletic first reported Ham’s.
“The plans mandate to build a world-class organization, that’s something that’s critical,” Rosas said last week at his introductory news conference. “And we’re going to bring in high-level people here, and over time I would love this organization to be a hotbed for future coaches and future GMs because of the success we’re having.”
When he took the job, Rosas vowed to question everything the organization does.
Even though it has been widely expected that Saunders will end up as the coach, Rosas is still vetting other candidates instead of just handing the job to Saunders.
Saunders has made a good impression on Rosas to pair with his strong relationship with owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, and his relationships with Wolves players, such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
Saunders, 33, took over the Wolves after Taylor fired Tom Thibodeau on Jan. 6. Under Saunders, the Wolves went 17-25 and missed the playoffs.