Sunday, January 28, 2007

Taking the fall

No team likes to fire a coach at mid-season. Usually it happens if a team, say, starts 6-24 in a season with playoff expectations. Minnesota has now fired their coach in the middle of two of the last three seasons, first the most successful coach in franchise history, with a team record of 25-26, and now his replacement, with the team sitting at 20-20.

The thing is, when Saunders was fired, the Wolves had started 13-6 and then gone 12-20. Under Casey, they'd started slow, gotten to 20-16, and then lost four straight. Four straight is worth a firing, with the team definitely in contention for the playoffs? How does Doc Rivers still have a job?

Much has been made of Kevin Garnett's increasing frustration with the franchise's mediocrity, so of course a move like this would not have been made without his approval, if not his outright encouragement. Randy Wittman, longtime Wolves assistant and former Cleveland head coach, was brought in at the beginning of the season, in hindsight clearly for just this eventuality.

Casey didn't deserve to go. But at this point, as a Wolves fan, I'll take whatever keeps Garnett happy and motivated. The one who really needs to go is McHale. We need a GM who can make good evaluations of talent, smart trades, and good drafts. The wins will come from that, not from anything the coach can do. If Wittman continues to have to try to win with McHale's decisions, look for another update in this space in about a year or two, when the Wolves are again around .500 at the All-Star break.

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