Timberwolves fire Wittman


Well, the other shoe finally dropped for Randy Wittman on Monday. As reported here and here (and you can listen to the whole thing here, if you feel like it), Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor "relieved" Wittman of his coaching duties ("how considerate of you, Mr. Taylor, to relieve me,") after an agonizing 4-15 start, replacing him with former VP of Basketball Operations, Kevin McHale.

Now, much of the blame for the present debacle must certainly go to Wittman. With his bewildering and inconsistent rotation, his punitive substitutions, his often PE teacher-ish demeanor, he is certainly responsible for his team's badly frayed psyche. And the on-court result--the painfully timid, anonymous play, the absence of a stylistic identity--that's also largely his bad. But Randy Wittman didn't draft Rashad McCants over Danny Granger (currently dropping 23.1 per game), nor did he trade Brandon Roy for Randy Foye (nor give up a first round pick for Marko Jaric, nor, dang, trade Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury, forfeit years and years of first round picks for the magnificently average Joe Smith, allow Chauncey Billups to walk away, draft Wally Sczerbiak ahead of Richard Hamilton, Andre Miller and Shawn Marion...who's tired?). Luckily for those of us whose eyelids flutter at the mention of the word "accountability," the man who made those very decisions is now at the helm and we'll finally get a chance to see the architect's vision fully realized.

And just what is that vision? A good question. McHale spoke about his desire for a more "open style," a quicker pace, and a more fluid offense, one in which players, rather than hewing to circumscribed positions, played interchangeable roles. All of these things sound great, but the type of team he described needs to be made up of multi-talented (and super-athletic) basketball renaissance men, the Pippens, Garnetts and Marions (not to mention the Danny Grangers and Brandon Roys) of the world.

It seems like many of these current Wolves are not this kind of fella, but rather players with no definable characteristics at all, who fall between niches because they excel at nothing (or who excel in certain ways but are grievously hampered in others). My worry--though all of  this might just be a function of the team's youth and their current state of bewildered shellshock-- is that the Wolves are too haphazardly constructed to play in any particular style, that they are aimless at their core. Either way, if McHale's first job is to rebuild the team's identity, to get them playing like confident pros, referring to them as being "like children," as he did toward the end of his remarks on Monday, is not a great start.