Ryan Saunders named Timberwolves head coach

Ryan Saunders can officially remove the interim tag from his coaching status with the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

FOX 9 has confirmed the team has hired Saunders as the Timberwolves head coach. 

Saunders led the Timberwolves to a 17-25 record following the dismissal of Tom Thibodeau 40 games into the 2018-19 season. Towards the end of the regular season, several players spoke publicly of their desire for Saunders to be retained as head coach.

His status became unclear after the hiring of Gersson Rosas as President of Basketball Operations. Rosas said at his introductory press conference that “we’re going to question the norm in everything that we do.” The interview process for the next Timberwolves coach reportedly involved Saunders, who had multiple conversations with Rosas, Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard, Portland Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool and New Orleans Pelicans assistant Chris Finch.

Saunders, 33, played in college as a walk-on at the University of Minnesota and eventually joined the coaching staff as a graduate assistant. He started his NBA coaching career as an assistant for the Washington Wizards in 2009.

He had been an assistant coach for the Timberwolves since 2014, and was named interim coach after Thibodeau’s firing in early January.

Saunders immediately brought stability and positivity to a franchise that didn’t have it under Thibodeau, whose mission to bring Jimmy Butler to Minnesota ultimately failed after he couldn’t get along with current players. Two of the Wolves’ highest-paid players, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, both voiced their support for Saunders at the end of the season.

The Timberwolves finished the season 36-46, missing the Western Conference Playoffs for the 14th time in 15 seasons.