"Insanity is when you keep doing the same things expecting different results" -- Rita Mae Brown
As the pleas for Wittman's ouster and rumors of that plea being heard continue to mount, I thought a quick review of the Wolves recent coaching decisions might be helpful.
February 12, 2005: Flip Saunders is fired as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves after a career winning percentage of .558. Kevin McHale takes over for the remaining 31 games and leads the team to a respectable 19-12 record. The team misses the playoffs for the first time after an 8-year run.
June 17, 2005: Dwane Casey signs a 5-year contract, three years are guaranteed. Casey has zero head coaching experience. Glen Taylor has this to say:
We could've found somebody with head coaching experience, and that might've been a little safer. But I have never always taken the safest route.
November 2005 - April 2006: In his first season, Casey leads the Wolves to a 33-49 record (.402). It's worth noting that the team traded away 3 players and took on 4 new ones in their place half-way through the season, a move that significantly impacted team chemistry (see Davis, Ricky and Blount, Mark). Flip Saunders is still being paid.
May 22, 2006: A month after the end of the season, Randy Wittman is hired as an assistant coach.
November 2006 - January 23, 2007: After leading the team to a 20-20 record, Casey is fired and Randy Wittman is promoted to head coach (McHale said Glen Taylor had asked him to take the job himself). The team finished 12-30 under Wittman. For those keeping track at home, that's Casey at .500 and Wittman at .286.
Casey still had a year and a half guaranteed on his contract. I've read, and been under the impression, that Taylor is still paying Casey this season. But the math doesn't work out if he was guaranteed 3 years (05/06, 06/07, 07/08) he shouldn't be owed anything in 2008/09, right?
May 23, 2007: Randy Wittman is signed to a three-year, nearly $5 million contract. On one hand, signing a coach to a multi-year contract lets him know management has confidence in him. On the other hand, at the time this contract was signed Wittman had a career head coach winning percentage of .359. I haven't heard of any other teams bidding Wittman's price up, so I can only imagine that McHale and Taylor's decision to commit that much money to a coach with no real success in his career was mostly a country club decision.
November 2007 - April 2008: Wittman leads a fully revamped roster to a 22 - 60 record, this brings his career winning percentage to .333. In fact, Witt has posted a successively worse record every year he's been a head coach in this league. And, if we give Casey some slack for a rearranged roster affecting team performance, Wittman deserves some for this season too. Dwane Casey is still on the payroll.
November 2008 - December 7, 2008, 8:49pm CST: Randy Wittman is still head coach of the team with the 4th worst record in the league, having been beaten by two of the three teams with a worse record.
It may be insane to fire yet another coach and have McHale take the reigns. But if the cycle is broken by McHale's exit from the driver's seat this summer, it will be a worthwhile to give the next regime a clean coaching slate. Even if Wittman is being paid to stay away next year.