Kevin McHale and the Minnesota Timberwolves have come to a mutual agreement that he will not return as coach next season.
A person with knowledge of the decision, speaking on condition of anonymity because an announcement had not been made, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that McHale and new boss David Kahn had decided that McHale's time with the Timberwolves was up.
That confirms a Twitter message posted by the Timberwolves' Kevin Love early Wednesday that read, "Today is a sad day ... Kevin McHale will NOT be back as head coach this season."
The northern Minnesota native and Hall of Fame player, who won three NBA titles with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, met several times with Kahn before they reached a conclusion.
The person with knowledge of the situation said it was a mutual decision to part ways. The team was planning a news conference Wednesday afternoon to explain the decision.
The move ends McHale's 15-year tenure with the Timberwolves. Most of that time was spent as the primary decision-maker on personnel matters, and the gregarious McHale forged a tight bond with owner Glen Taylor during that time.
Taylor moved McHale down from the front office in December to take over for fired coach Randy Wittman and hired Kahn last month to take McHale's former position as basketball boss. Ever since he was hired, Kahn pledged to handle the decision on McHale's coaching status with professionalism and respect.
"Kevin has a long history here and a relationship with the owner that I respect and trust," Kahn said at his introductory press conference. "I will not hurt Kevin McHale. I will not."
Though he helped turn a terribly unsuccessful franchise into a playoff team by boldly drafting Kevin Garnett out of high school with the fifth pick in 1995, McHale received massive criticism from fans the last few years for a series of draft-day failures and other roster moves that never worked out.
He showed more proficiency as a coach, though.
In 2005, McHale took over after firing his old friend Flip Saunders - less than one year after they went to the Western Conference finals behind Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell - and went 19-12 the rest of the season.
Minnesota's record under McHale after he replaced Wittman was 20-43, but for much of that stretch the Wolves were playing short-handed after star Al Jefferson tore the ACL in his right knee. Defensive standout Corey Brewer also suffered a season-ending knee injury and guard Randy Foye missed 12 of the last 22 games to ankle and hip problems.
After losing eight straight games following the coaching change, the Wolves went 13-10 until Jefferson was hurt. Several players remarked about the positive vibe McHale brought to the bench and expressed appreciation of his simpler strategy.
Jefferson, Foye and most everybody else in the locker room lobbied for him to come back.
"If there's some kind of way that he leaves the Timberwolves," Jefferson said in April, "that's when I'll be very, very upset."
Even when he was working in the front office, McHale had a gift for on-court teaching - often staying late after practice to help post players from Garnett to Jefferson hone their inside games. He still enjoyed that aspect last season, though the losing wore on him and he wasn't fond of the rigors of travel.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)