It’s difficult to know what goes on inside a team’s sanctuaries – in the locker-room, in the huddle and elsewhere players and coaches and management interact away from public scrutiny. It’s even harder when you’re not around the team every day. But from this view in the rafters, this is what I see: Kevin McHale is delusional.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Timberwolves long-time executive (I refused henceforth describe him as “former Celtic great” because nothing he’s done since deserves to be noted in the same phrase) fired head coach Dwane Casey with the team possessing a .500 record (20-20) and sitting in the eighth playoff position in the difficult Western Conference. McHale cited the team’s inconsistency and said, “We don’t want to be the eighth seed. I think we’re better than the eighth seed.”
He’s got to be kidding. Let’s see. The teams ahead of the T-Wolves are Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Utah, the Lakers, Houston and Denver. With Kevin Garnett and an interchangeable cast of youngsters and mid-level talents (which McHale has changed many times to little avail), the T-Wolves might have been better than seventh-seeded Denver before the team traded for Allen Iverson. Now, especially with Carmelo Anthony back, well, as I said, McHale is delusional.
Casey had barely one-and-a-half seasons and was a first-time head coach after many years as an assistant. He was 33-49 in 2005-06, but that season was discombobulated by an aight-player trade that pretty much took the team back to square one.
Whule I was surprised at the firing, I wasn’t. We are now in the midst of the “You’re Fired” Era in sports. Administrators in all sports, college and pro, no longer hire coaches and give them any time to build a program and endure the natural vicissitudes of the journey. Sometimes, it’s the public crying for a beheading. Other times it’s us in the media. And sometimes it’s just ineffective and insecure GMs trying to cover their own mistakes and short-comings by firing the coach.
This seeems to fall into the latter category. The bottom line is that McHale and owner Glen Taylor have been unable to build a champinionship-caliber team around Garnett, one of the best players of this generation. Their best shot was the team led by Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell. But McHale couldn’t keep the group together and the team has not been as good since.
Even when Garnett publicly called – pleased – for McHale to get Iverson when the Sixers said he would be traded, McHale couldn’t get it done.
All that said, Casey’s team was respectable. Heck, if he’d been the Knicks head coach with that record, he’d be called The Miracle Worker.
McHale should be the one to go in Minnesota, not Casey.