Timberwolves coach Chris Finch had concluded his shootaround media availability Monday morning, but before exiting the area, he had one final thing to say.
“I know today is the anniversary of Flip Saunders’ passing,” Finch said. “It’s always a tough day for the organization. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, and we know what he meant to this team here, and we’ll be very lucky if we can mimic any of his successes.”
It was a classy gesture on the sixth anniversary of Saunders’ death. Finch never got the chance to know Saunders, but the two both put in a lot of time before netting their major NBA opportunities. Saunders coached in the Continental Basketball Association, including a stop in La Crosse, Wis., while Finch both coached overseas and in the G-League before becoming an NBA assistant.
“I was pretty new in the league when he was in Washington, and before that I was overseas,” Finch said, “but always admired the way his teams played, his offensive execution and offensive creativity.”
Finch noted Saunders’ reputation and impact lingers in the building, and Twin Cities at large.
“I think that’s one of the great things about this market. It’s part of the familiarity of the organization,” Finch said. “Every organization is different, but the success was rooted to what they were able to do here. People always ask about legacy and all that kind of stuff. You only have a legacy when you’ve been successful.”
Rookie guard Leandro Bolmaro — whom Minnesota selected in the first round of the 2020 draft — didn’t play in Saturday’s win over New Orleans and is not currently a member of the Timberwolves’ rotation.
But that doesn’t mean Finch and Co. don’t think highly of the versatile guard.
“We love Leandro. He’s going to be a great player in this league. He’s going to be just fine,” Finch said. “He does a lot of things. We could play him right now. He’s a really good defender. He plays well without the ball in his hands. He’s smart, he’s unselfish, he can play point guard. We just have a lot of guys that can play. It’s hard, we’re trying to play 11, and we’re well aware of what he can do for us.”
As of now, Finch said Bolmaro’s primary responsibility is to keep learning, pushing his teammates in practice and simply “be ready.”
“He’s gonna play,” Finch said. “Everyone gets their chance. That’s the great thing about the league over 82 games. You get at least one, if not multiple chances.”