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Timberwolves fire coach Randy Wittman; Kevin McHale takes over coaching duties




| Dec. 8, 2008

Timberwolves fire coach Randy Wittman; Kevin McHale to coachThe Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that the team has relieved head coach Randy Wittman of his coaching duties. Kevin McHale will take over the head coaching responsibilities of the team on a full-time basis from this point forward. McHale, who has served as vice president of basketball operations since May 11, 1995, will step down from that role with the team in order to concentrate on his coaching duties.

See our reaction here and fan discussion here.

"There were certain goals and expectations that we had for this team at the start of the season, and we have not lived up to them," said Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. "I am disappointed in our record and believe that we have more talent than our record indicates. A change had to be made and with three-fourths of the season remaining, there is still time to make substantial progress this year. I want to thank Randy for all of his contributions to the Timberwolves through the years as both a head coach and an assistant coach, and wish him the best in the future."

"Kevin has assembled the players on this team, and believes in their talent and skill level," Taylor said. "It is my expectation that Kevin will be able to get the most out of our team and our players in his new role as head coach. He has been involved in the NBA game for almost 30 years, is a tremendous teacher and has a wealth of basketball knowledge. I am confident that our players will respond to the new voice and perspective that Kevin will provide."

"I truly believe that we have a talented group of players in our locker room who have a great amount of potential," said McHale. "I'm confident that we can get this turned around and get back to playing a brand of basketball that our fans can be proud of."

This will be McHale's second stint as an NBA head coach, the first coming on an interim basis for the final 31 games of the 2004-05 season. McHale guided the Wolves to a 19-12 record during that stint. He started with the Timberwolves front office in 1993-94 as a special assistant before moving to assistant general manager for the 1994-95 season.

Prior to joining the Wolves, McHale played 13 seasons for the Boston Celtics, helping lead the team to three NBA Championships (1981, 1984 and 1986), five Eastern Conference titles and eight Atlantic Division crowns. A first-round pick (third overall) of the NBA Draft by Boston, McHale averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in 971 career regular-season games. On Oct. 1, 1999, McHale was recognized for his achievements with the Celtics by being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. During the 1997 NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, he was recognized as one of the NBA's Top 50 Players for the league's first half-century.

A native of Hibbing, Minn., McHale averaged 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds during his four seasons at the University of Minnesota, where he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 1979 and 1980. On Feb. 18, 1995, he was honored as the top player in University of Minnesota's men's basketball history, as the school celebrated its 100th anniversary in the sport.

Wittman was named head coach of the Timberwolves on Jan. 23, 2007, after taking over for Dwane Casey. In that time, he posted a 38-105 record with the team, including a 4-15 mark this season. Prior to becoming head coach, Wittman spent 10+ seasons in three separate stints as an assistant coach for the Wolves (1994-95 - 1998-99, 2001-02 - 2004-05 and 2006-07). He also served as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for two seasons (1999-2000 and 2000-01), compiling a 62-102 record.

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