It's that time again: the time where mainstream columnists, reporters, radio hosts, and anyone with a mic decide that that the Wovles are so bad that it's safe enough to openly call for the coach to be fired. Reusssseeeeeeee is the first to really weigh in:
Wittman is 35-98 (.263) as coach of the Wolves and 97-200 (.327) including Cleveland. That's the fourth-poorest winning percentage in NBA history for a coach with 290-plus games.
This woebegone operation needs credibility. Firing Wittman and replacing him with Fred Hoiberg as coach offers none. Firing Wittman and continuing to cede all personnel power to McHale offers none.
It's time for Taylor to call Medina and make this offer to a coach with a .597 winning percentage in the NBA: Flip, you come back as coach, Hoiberg gets the GM title but you make the roster decisions, and we let McHale save some face as a "special adviser" -- with no advice needed.
Of course, we've heard this song and dance before:
McHale says he did not bring Wittman back with the intention of replacing Casey. But Wittman will now take over as head coach.
Star Tribune sports columnist Pat Reusse says Wittman is a better tactician than Casey, and the team will probably start running better plays. But he doesn't think Casey should shoulders the blame for the team's erratic performance and he's skeptical a change in coaches will make a difference.
"This is not going to be a more consistent team, because the players aren't that good," according to Reusse. "Everybody is inconsistent except the seven or eight elite teams, and this sure isn't one of those.
Reusse says the blame ultimately falls on Timberwolves management. He says the McHale is the one who picks the players, and he hasn't done a good job at it.
A better tactician. Of course. Reussssseeeee is also the guy who wrote off Kevin Love before a single regular season game and once referred to women's basketball as "synchronized tip-toeing".
As long-time Hoopus readers know, we have long said that Witt has no business coaching this squad. However, when you choose to hire a coach with a career record of .333 and little to no record of player development, nobody should be acting surprised or put-out when he coaches a team with young talent to a .263 record and the players don't develop. How many more times do fans need to watch this little dance?
As a life-long fan of the team, and as someone who has put considerable time and money into the franchise over its 20 year history, I can honestly say that I'm reaching some sort of point of no return with this club. From the blotched 1999 Draft to the Joe Smith fiasco to questionable free agent signings to the Marko deal to replacing Spree and Sam with Ricky and James to the firing of Flip to the backstabbing of Casey to McCants over Granger to Foye over Roy (and Gay) to needlessly trading a 2nd round pick that could have been used on Mario Chalmers and to all the things I've left out because naming them all would take too long, this club has one immediate need to take care of: to rid itself of Kevin McHale and bring in someone from outside the country club to run the front office. No Hoiberg, no Babcock, no inside job.
Folks, they can talk about it until they're blue in the face but Our Beloved Puppies aren't going to reel in any free agents in 2009 or 2010. They may overpay for some joker they could have probably landed with a full MLE, but they're not getting anyone that would really take the weight off of Big Al's shoulders. No Joe Johnson. No Michael Redd. Definitely no Lebron or D-Wade.
Next year's draft is the last chance this team has to make it right in the post-KG era. They have the possibility of landing 4 1st rounders. They have an expiring Mike Miller contract. They have a highly-regarded stashed Euro center. They have young role players with reasonable contracts. In other words, they have some assets to move around on draft day.
No matter what happens with Witt, and no matter who they bring in here to coach this mess until the season mercifully ends, we fans know that as long as McHale has a voice in that front office, the country club survives and this team will continue to put a losing product on the court.
NBA GM'ing involves two things: luck and competency. As I've mentioned before, Blazers' GM Kevin Pritchard doesn't become an uber-genius without the luck of a coin flip and the incompetence of the Iron Ranger picking Foye over Roy. The Wolves lucked out by having Brandon Roy land in their laps. Unfortunately, having won 1/2 the battle, they lost the war by dealing him away in a fit of incompetence.
While yours truly believes Kevin Love will be the better long term pro and that the deal with Memphis was a steal, there's also a large chunk of Wolves fans who believe the Wolves once again threw luck out the window when they moved Mr. Mayo down the river to the Griz.
Wrapping this thing up, firing Witt without detailing an exit plan for Mchale does nothing for this club. Even if this club lucks into something amazing in next year's draft, who here among us really believes they'll get it right? Forget bringing back Flip. Papa Glen should give the Iron Ranger an ultimatum: coach this team to a .500 record over the final 70 games of the season or lose your job.