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Ryan Saunders is the first NBA head coach to be fired in the 2020-21 season

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Scott Brooks was once the favorite based on gambling odds, but that has also changed due to a recent four-game win streak.

Washington Wizards v Minnesota Timberwolves
Ryan Saunders was the first NBA head coach to be fired this season.
Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

On Sunday, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired head coach Ryan Saunders after the team started with a 7-24 record in the 2020-21 NBA season. Saunders had a 43-94 record as head coach, replacing Tom Thibodeau midway through the 2018-19 NBA season.

The surprising part about Saunders’ termination wasn’t that he was fired. That was no surprise given that they had the NBA’s worst record. It was that he was replaced by Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch. On the one hand, it wasn’t surprising given that Minnesota GM Gersson Rosas wanted Finch in 2019 when he interviewed of the job. It’s that this type of hire happened midseason. Team owner Glen Taylor had been supportive of Saunders keeping the job to this point.

So why am I writing about this? It’s because until not too long ago, Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks was the preseason favorite to be the first one to lose his job midseason. After a 3-12 start, there was plenty of reason to fire him.

I’m not sure if General Manager Tommy Sheppard would try to bring in a head coach from another NBA team directly like this if such a situation happened (and some of our commenters wanted to see an active assistant coach on another NBA team do that). But if it did happen, it would still be a bad look nevertheless.

It sounds ill-timed to talk about this subject when the Wizards are now on a four-game win streak. But the Wizards are still well below .500 and out of a guaranteed playoff spot, both of which were their goals before the season. So Brooks is not out of the woods just yet.