The big news out of Target Center this morning is not that Kevin McHale takes over for Randy Wittman as coach, but that McHale is leaving his front-office job to concentrate solely on coaching.
As reluctant as McHale was to coach the first time around, this sure seemes like Glen Taylor’s move to finally send the franchise in a new direction.
Randy Wittman, the eighth head coach in Timberwolves history, was fired today and will be replaced by Kevin McHale, the team will announce at a 2 p.m. news conference.
McHale, who said the team said would relinquish his front-office duties to concentrate on coaching, was expected to lead his first practice today at 11.
The Wolves were 38-105 under Wittman. He coached one full season and parts of two others.
“There were certain goals and expectations that we had for this team at the start of the season, and we have not lived up to them,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement.
“I am disappointed in our record and believe that we have more talent than our record indicates. A change had to be made and with three-fourths of the season remaining, there is still time to make substantial progress this year. I want to thank Randy for all of his contributions to the Timberwolves through the years as both a head coach and an assistant coach, and wish him the best in the future.”
It is the NBA’s fourth firing already this season, following dismissals in Oklahoma City (P.J. Carlesimo), Washington (Eddie Jordan) and Toronto (Sam Mitchell).
“I truly believe that we have a talented group of players in our locker room who have a great amount of potential,” said McHale. “I’m confident that we can get this turned around and get back to playing a brand of basketball that our fans can be proud of.”
This will be McHale’s second stint as an NBA head coach, the first coming on an interim basis for the final 31 games of the 2004-05 season. McHale guided the Wolves to a 19-12 record during that stint. He started with the Timberwolves front office in 1993-94 as a special assistant before moving to assistant general manager for the 1994-95 season.
It is not known whether assistant general manager Fred Hoiberg, who has been groomed as McHale’s replacement, would immediately be elevated to his former front-office position…
Interestingly, Tuesday’s game will mark the 20th anniversary of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan’s hiring.
The Wolves, who are celebrating their 20-year anniversary, have gone through eight head coaches during that time: Bill Musselman, Jimmy Rodgers, Sidney Lowe, Bill Blair, Saunders, Casey, McHale and Wittman.
“I want to thank Randy for all of his contributions to the Timberwolves through the years as both a head coach and an assistant coach, and wish him the best in the future,” Taylor said.
Now it’s up to McHale to try and turn things around, and he has experience in this kind of situation. He went 19-12 in the final 31 games of the 2004-05 season after firing coach Flip Saunders.
“Kevin has assembled the players on this team, and believes in their talent and skill level,” Taylor said. “It is my expectation that Kevin will be able to get the most out of our team and our players in his new role as head coach.”