The NBA's coaching carousel revved up again — predictably, since firing coaches serves as an annual rite of spring.
The names involved in this cycle move the conversation beyond just normal business. Mike Budenholzer. Doc Rivers. Monty Williams. Nick Nurse.
Prominent names. All accomplished coaches. Two of them — Budenholzer and Nurse — led their respective teams to NBA championships in recent years.
But for different reasons, all those coaches ended up unemployed after their teams fell short of expectations.
Within this firing frenzy, Timberwolves ownership and team President Tim Connelly decided to show patience by sticking with Chris Finch after an erratic season that was a bucket of cold water to the face.
I would have made that same decision. Between Karl-Anthony Towns' 52-game injury absence and the unconventional experiment involving Rudy Gobert, Finch faced challenging circumstances that weren't always in his control. Changing coaches again right now is not the move.
Next season? Different discussion, if the results don't change.
Finch has arrived at an inflection point as the bench leader. The Wolves can no longer call themselves a young team, or a rebuilding team, or anything other than a team that is constructed to win now.
The two most recent seasons both ended with Finch lamenting his team's lack of maturity. That won't fly next spring.
Connelly, not Finch, put the organization's future in jeopardy by trading for Gobert, but accountability for how the team performs on the court falls on the coach.
Finch is a likable guy whose easygoing temperament works well in the locker room. Players respect his approach and his basketball smarts. But it was impossible to watch the Wolves this season and walk away feeling that Finch got the best out of his team, even with Towns' lengthy absence.
The offense late in games left much to be desired, which is baffling because Finch came to the organization with the reputation of being an offensive savant. The Wolves finished 25th in offensive rating in clutch situations, which the NBA defines as a game with five minutes remaining and the score within five points.
The issues became a broken record. Ball movement disappeared, replaced by stagnant play. Too many disorganized sequences.
Finch must do a better job of creating structure and purpose in those situations. His job this offseason is to figure out how his main pieces — Anthony Edwards, Towns, Gobert — fit together in a cohesive way.
The team's season-long inconsistency was especially maddening. The Wolves lost 20 games (postseason and regular season combined) after leading by double digits. That was nearly a quarter of their games.
They also posted a losing record against losing teams. No other team that advanced to the postseason finished with a losing record against sub-.500 teams.
Every team produces a few clunkers against inferior or tanking teams in an 82-game season. But not 10 of them.
The Wolves squandered better playoff positioning by not putting forth a serious effort against bad teams. Towns' absence was not an excuse because they defeated playoff-caliber teams without him as well.
I tend to blame players more than the coach in those situations. NBA players shouldn't require extra motivation to prevent a listless performance. The coach, however, bears ultimate responsibility.
Add in the visuals of Gobert punching a teammate in a huddle and Jaden McDaniels breaking his hand by punching a wall, and it's not enough for Finch to bemoan his team's immaturity time and again.
Connelly gave Finch a vote of confidence after the season by praising how he handled "less-than-optimal circumstances." Towns' injury certainly created a significant disruption, but that doesn't provide a blanket excuse for everything that went wrong. Even Towns labeled his team's season a failure in a recent podcast with Paul George.
The Wolves need to do more than just squeak into the playoffs next season as a minimum expectation. Finch undoubtedly knows this. It shouldn't be acceptable to anyone for another season to end with a first-round whimper and the head coach offering sound bites about a lack of maturity.