Finch Promoted to Rockets

Coach Finch (Photo Credit: Dana/Dutch Cowgill)

July 15, 2011

MCALLEN, TEXAS – The Rio Grande Valley Vipers announced on Friday that head coach Chris Finch has earned a promotion to become an assistant coach with their parent club, the Houston Rockets.

“I want to thank everybody within the Vipers organization for all their support and professionalism over the last two years. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and working with everybody. I found the experience both rewarding and very helpful in preparing me for my next opportunity,” Finch said.

Finch becomes the second Vipers coach to earn a promotion to an NBA coaching staff, with Robert Pack, an assistant coach during the 2008-09 season, becoming an assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets, who were one of the Vipers’ parents clubs that year. Pack is now on the Los Angeles Clippers’ coaching staff.

Finch is the second coach to earn a promotion to the NBA this off-season, following in the footsteps of Maine Red Claws head coach Austin Ainge, who recently joined the Boston Celtics as Director of Player Personnel. Finch is also the 29th coach to earn a promotion to the NBA in NBA Development League history.

“This is a great opportunity for Chris and I am very excited for him and his family. Chris has done an outstanding job with the Vipers and he is very deserving of this chance to be on Coach McHale's Rockets staff. During his time in the Rio Grande Valley, Chris did a terrific job of developing many of our young players while still managing to lead the Vipers to back-to-back NBA D-League Finals, including a championship two seasons ago. I have complete confidence he will bring that same winning mindset to his responsibilities with the Rockets,” said Vipers General Manager Gersson Rosas, who is also the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Rockets.

Named the third head coach in Vipers history on September 29, 2009, Finch completed the second biggest turnaround in NBA Development League history by taking the Vipers from back-to-back 21-29 records to a 34-16 record while earning the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award before winning the championship. Finch led the Vipers back to the Finals this past season, marking just the second time that feat has ever been accomplished. With a record of 65-33 (.663) in two seasons, Finch is not only the winningest head coach in Vipers history, but he also holds the third highest winning percentage in NBA Development League history (minimum of five games coached), behind only Hornets assistant coach Bryan Gates (Idaho Stampede, 2006-09) and Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Dave Joerger (Dakota Wizards, 2006-07), who both finished at .666. In a 14-year career as a head coach, the 41-year old Finch holds a record of 446-221 (.679). His resume includes 13 playoff appearances while finishing either first or second in the regular season 11 times. Finch has won eight championships and five Coach of the Year awards.

Finch is also the head coach of the Great Britain National Team, who he will lead into the 2012 Olympics in London.

"We want to thank Chris for being a such a big part of our organization, both on and off the court, for the last two years. From the moment Chris arrived in the Valley, he wanted to be heavily involved in the community. I’ll never forget that weekend in March when we didn’t have any games. Rather than take the time off, Chris took the entire team and staff to go help Paint McAllen Beautiful. He was a great ambassador for the Rio Grande Valley everywhere he went, and I have no doubt he will continue to be that in Houston. Chris is one of the best coaches in the world and we wish him the best of luck with the Rockets,” Vipers President Bert Garcia said.

The Rockets will immediately begin the search for the fourth head coach in Vipers history.

The Rio Grande Valley Vipers are the NBA Development League affiliate of the NBA Houston Rockets. The NBA Development League, founded in 2001, is the NBA’s official minor league. Featuring 16 teams with direct affiliations to NBA franchises, the NBA D-League is a proven developer of talent: 23 percent of players in the NBA at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season boasted NBA D-League experience, and the league continues to develop coaches, referees, and front-office staff for the NBA and its teams. In fostering the league’s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote health and wellness, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA D-League Cares programs. The NBA D-League also advances the game of basketball as the research and development arm of the NBA. Throughout the league’s 10th season, fans can watch all NBA D-League games on NBA FUTURECAST, the free live Web-streaming initiative found at nba.com/futurecast.