The Minnesota Timberwolves made some big NBA news on Sunday night when they decided to move on from head coach Ryan Saunders and quickly replaced him with Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch. Teams don’t typically hire coaches from another staff during the season so the move was a bit surprising by the Timberwolves. Finch is a respected coach, who has spent the last decade in the NBA. However, not everybody was on board with the move.
Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard was clearly not happy that his former assistant coach David Vanterpool didn’t get the nod.
How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool and he’s right there on the bench… and has been in front office SUCCESSFULLY and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) … and also has played a major role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) February 22, 2021
Vanterpool joined the Timberwolves in 2019 but coached Lillard in Portland from 2012 to 2019. Considering he’s already a member of the team’s coaching staff, it would’ve made sense to give Vanterpool a shot. That said, it’s very possible that Minnesota is looking for a fresh face and that’s why they hired Finch.
Lillard wasn’t the only one who appeared to have an issue with the Timberwolves’ coaching decision. Los Angeles Lakers guard Quinn Cook seemingly agreed with the Trail Blazers star.
That shit really crazy slim 🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/GHsnePEkYQ
— Quinn Cook (@QCook323) February 22, 2021
Seeing that Vanterpool clearly has fans around the league, there’s a good shot he’ll get a head coaching job eventually.
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Lakers Struggling Lately
To start the season, the Lakers looked like a dominant team. They had the best record in the league through most of January and they were playing well on both offense and defense. While the team is still playing well, they’ve struggled quite a bit in recent weeks.
The biggest issues have come from the 3-point line. Through 16 games, the Lakers were shooting 40% from beyond the arc, which was third-best in the NBA. Now the team is shooting 35.5% from three, which puts them at 21st in the league. That’s a very steep fall for the offense.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was on a tear to start the season. There was a point where he was shooting about 57% from three. In the Lakers’ last 15 games, Caldwell-Pope has made more than one 3-pointer in a game just twice. He’s supposed to be one of the team’s best shooters so these recent struggles should be very concerning. The Lakers looked like clear title favorites when the season first started but they’re getting a little sloppy. If they don’t turn things around, they could be in for a rude awakening in the playoffs.
Lakers Relying Heavily on LeBron James
Luckily for the Lakers, they have LeBron James to keep them afloat. Anthony Davis is going to miss an extended period of time with a calf injury so the team needs LeBron to be elite every night if they hope to win. Despite being 36-years-old, he continues to be the best basketball player in the world.
While relying on LeBron has worked for many teams in the past, the Lakers are playing a dangerous game. Just because he’s defied Father Time this far, doesn’t mean he’ll do it forever. The name of the game is winning championships in Los Angeles. The regular season shouldn’t matter much. Well, LeBron has yet to take a single game off this season. He’s always been against load management but he’s coming off the shortest offseason in NBA history. At a certain point, the Lakers need to give LeBron a break. If they don’t, they run the risk of being drained come playoff time.