Timberwolves fire Casey after four straight losses

Kevin McHale
"We were at a point as a team where we were just treading water," Kevin McHale said at a news conference announcing the firing of Duane Casey. "The ups and downs, we just couldn't find any consistency."
MPR Photo/Annie Baxter

Timberwolves' vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale says Dwane Casey has worked hard in his capacity as head coach. But McHale says the team seemed like it was treading water and Casey couldn't stabilize its performance.

"There were nights we contained the ball well, there were nights our screen-and-roll defense was very good, and the next night it would be poor," he said. "But our play was just too erratic."

Casey leaves with a record of 53 wins and 69 losses. He could not be reached for comment.

Some sports analysts say Casey's ouster was signalled last summer, when Randy Wittman returned to the team as assistant coach. It was his third stint in that role.

Duane Casey
The Timberwolves fired coach Duane Casey in only his second season as head coach.
MPR file photo/Art Hughes

McHale says he did not bring Wittman back with the intention of replacing Casey. But Wittman will now take over as head coach.

Star Tribune sports columnist Pat Reusse says Wittman is a better tactician than Casey, and the team will probably start running better plays. But he doesn't think Casey should shoulders the blame for the team's erratic performance and he's skeptical a change in coaches will make a difference.

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"This is not going to be a more consistent team, because the players aren't that good," according to Reusse. "Everybody is inconsistent except the seven or eight elite teams, and this sure isn't one of those.

Reusse says the blame ultimately falls on Timberwolves management. He says the McHale is the one who picks the players, and he hasn't done a good job at it.

McHale says he's aware of the role he plays in the big picture.

"The success of the team hopefully starts with me and ends with me. That's the way it is in this business," he said.

The Timberwolves have 41 games left in the season.