May 21, 2019 05:58 PM
Ryan Saunders was officially introduced as the permanent head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday morning.
The team announced the move Monday, and Saunders and new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas met the media Tuesday morning at a press conference held in the Target Center Lobby.
"Today is not about me," Saunders said. "It's about the people who have helped me get to the position I'm in today."
Saunders, who had been an assistant coach with the team, was named interim head coach when the franchise fired president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau in January.
The Timberwolves went 17-25 in his 42 games coaching the team last season.
At 33, the son of the late former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders is the youngest head coach in the NBA.
"I want to thank someone who is unable to be here today, at least in the physical form," said Saunders, growing emotional as he spoke of his father who died in 2015 from complications associated with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"But I know he's looking down. And I know he'd say there's nowhere else he'd rather I get my start in coaching."
KSTP's Darren Wolfson reported the move came after Rosas interviewed Juwan Howard, Chris Finch and Darwin Ham last week in Chicago. Another candidate, David Vanterpool, interviewed over the phone.
At Tuesday's press conference, Rosas said he was under no mandate to hire Saunders, but chose him after looking at all the candidates available.
"We went out into the marketplace the last 14 days and opened up a process," he said. "We talked to individuals we thought could be leaders of this organization. We talked to them and vetted them out at length. But that started here with Ryan."
And Rosas said he came to the conclusion Saunders was the right choice.
"It's hard to imagine finding another leader who can connect with our players the way he has - on and off the court," Rosas said.
Updated: May 21, 2019 05:58 PM
Created: May 21, 2019 10:10 AM
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