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Timberwolves fire Wittman; McHale to coach team


Posted Dec 8 2008 2:30PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Randy Wittman was fired as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, two days after an embarrassing 23-point loss at home to the last-place Los Angeles Clippers. Kevin McHale took over as coach, leaving his job as the club's vice president of basketball operations.

The young team has a 4-15 record and has not responded to Wittman's demands for tough defense. The Timberwolves are in the midst of a five-game losing streak in which the average margin of defeat has been nearly 17 points.

Related Story
Read the Timberwolves' press release on the team's firing of coach Randy Wittman. Read Full Article
The Timberwolves' decision to fire Randy Wittman is hardly a shock. Now Minnesota turns to favorite son (and current VP of basketball ops) Kevin McHale to clean up the mess he helped create, writes Art Garcia. Read Full Article

"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," he added.

This was the fourth NBA coaching firing this season following P.J. Carlesimo (Oklahoma City), Eddie Jordan (Washington) and Sam Mitchell (Toronto).

Wittman was 38-105 since taking over for Dwane Casey in January 2007. McHale picked Wittman to preside over the team's rebuilding following the trade of Kevin Garnett, but the second year of the plan has not produced results.

After keeping things close early in the season, the Timberwolves lost by 29 points at New Jersey on Friday night, then were blown out by the Clippers on Saturday night to seal Wittman's fate. Wittman went 22-60 last year, his only full season in charge.

"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.

Related Video
In what would be his final game as Minnesota's coach, Randy Wittman and the Timberwolves lost to the Clippers 107-84.
Play 2:15

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. He has been the team's top basketball executive since 1995. But unlike his first stint coaching when he kept his VP role, McHale will concentrate fully on coaching this time.

The team did not immediately say who would fill the open executive slot. Assistant GM Fred Hoiberg, in training to eventually take over for McHale, is a top candidate.

"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."

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