The Wolves are 2-6 since firing Dwayne Casey, losing games to teams like Portland, Sacramento, Seattle, and NO/OKC. Their record in close games (under 4 points) under Randy Wittman, ostensibly a reason Casey was let go, is 0-4. The rotation, another reason Casey was ostensibly let go, is now largely in flux compared to Casey’s last month running the team. And the inconsistency, the final public reason floated by Kevin McHale as a reason to let Casey go, has been on full display, a supposedly season-turning win against the Suns followed by an energy-devoid sleepwalk at home against the Kings I had the displeasure to see in person. Tonight they got blown out completely by a Yao-less Houston team. They were never in the game at all.
Granted, Wittman hasn’t had much practice time with this team, but this is the NBA, and McHale and everyone else knew the schedule when they decided to can Casey mid-season, when they were .500 and in the 8th spot in the West. Also, the Wolves have only had two home games under Wittman, though one of them was the Kings clunker. And again, it’s not like McHale couldn’t look at the schedule coming up.
The true reason for Casey’s firing, at least according to Pat Reusse (who’s probably right) is that McHale didn’t believe in Casey’s abilities as an X-and-O man. Hey, that’s all fine and good; I’m not qualified to know one way or the other. But I can certainly look at the results so far and question whether the “X’s and O’s” have had any real impact on this team’s bottom line. Maybe they are getting into better plays coming out of time-outs. So what?
Worst of all, McHale and Taylor fired a coach 18 months after they hired him because they supposedly realized he didn’t know X’s and O’s? Is that the coach’s fault, or McHale’s and Taylor’s? Rhetorical question, I know. Ever hear of due diligence? If you want an X-and-O coach (and they had one of the best in the business the year before, when they fired Flip Saunders), don’t you think maybe you’d want to find out if the guy is strong in that area?
Randy Wittman was the last bullet this team’s management had to fire, besides firing McHale or dealing Kevin Garnett. If Wittman can’t get things turned around by the end of February, a tragic outcome is coming down the road, but it won’t be seeing Garnett dealt. That’s the good outcome. The tragic outcome is he doesn’t ask to go, and management doesn’t have the guts or the insight to move him when they can. The two Kevins will rot here together, and this franchise will have wasted an opportunity and a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Watch. They are 22-26 right now. If they aren’t within a three games of that eighth spot by the end of February, Target Center will be a ghost town, McHale will go back in the bunker, and it will be baseball season before this town knows it.