McHale replaces Saunders as Wolves coach
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that the NBA club has relieved head coach Flip Saunders of his coaching duties and responsibilities. Saunders will be re-assigned within the organization. Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale will take over the head coaching duties for the remainder of the 2004-05 NBA season.
In nine-plus seasons as head coach of the Timberwolves, Saunders posted a 411-326 record (.558 winning percentage). Saunders, the winningest coach in franchise history, was named head coach on Dec. 18, 1995 after taking over for Bill Blair. He directed the Wolves to a team-best 58-24 mark in 2003-04 that included a first-ever appearance in the Western Conference Finals. On Dec. 1, 2004, Saunders became the eighth person in NBA history to have coached his first 700 games with the same organization. His complete coaching history is listed below.
McHale started his career with the Timberwolves in 1993-94. He has served as a special assistant to the coaching staff (1993-94), broadcast analyst (1993-95) and assistant general manager (1994-95) before moving into his current role as Vice President of Basketball Operations (May 11, 1995). One of his most heralded personnel moves came shortly after he was named to his current post when he selected high-school phenom Kevin Garnett with the fifth overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. This will mark the first time McHale has been a head coach in the NBA.
Prior to joining the Timberwolves organization, McHale, a Hibbing, Minn. native, played 13 seasons as a power forward for the Boston Celtics. A first-round selection (third overall) by Boston in the 1980 NBA Draft, McHale helped lead the Celtics to three NBA Championships (1981, 1984, 1986), five Eastern Conference titles and eight Atlantic Division crowns. The 6-10 forward averaged 17.9 ppg and 7.3 rpg in 971 regular-season games. On Oct. 1, 1999, McHale was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition, he was named one of the NBA’s Top 50 Players in league history in 1997.
McHale’s basketball success stems from his roots in Minnesota. He led Hibbing High School to the Minnesota Class AA State Basketball Tournament title game. In college, he posted career averages of 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds in four seasons at the University of Minnesota, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in 1979 and 1980.