HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

January 29, 2007

Ineptitude continues for the Wolves

By Jesse Menden

The firing of Timberwolves head coach Dwayne Casey last week is inconsequential when you think about it.

A Pat Riley or a Phil Jackson could not get much more out of this basketball team than Casey did. But that does not make the firing right.

Casey was doing a good job this season. He was much better than he was in the 2005-06 season, and this year, he took a team that was destined (and may still be) for a lottery pick and made them into a team that would be in the playoffs when he was fired.

But firing Casey just over a year into his tenure begs the question, who is really running this team?

The Vikings had their “Triangle of Authority,” during this preseason that laid out who was in charge.

From digging deep into my old mathematics books, I know that the triangle was an equilateral triangle. Everybody had about the same amount of power.

The Wolves have their own version, as well. But this triangle isn’t so equal.

It appears that the people who do have power shouldn’t, and that is the main problem with this organization. There is no clear leadership and no clear plan.

The Wolves’ version of the triangle should be called the “Triangle of Ineptitude,” and it is definitely not equilateral.

In fact, this triangle couldn’t be more isosceles.

The players have commandeered this organization and currently have most of the control, it is all-out lawlessness.

Casey was not a top choice of either owner Glen Taylor or General Manager Kevin McHale. It was Kevin Garnett who lobbied heavily to get Casey in Minnesota.

It was the players, specifically Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell, who got Flip Saunders fired. And now it appears that Ricky Davis, and possibly Garnett, got Casey fired.

The last three games leading up to Casey’s firing were pathetic efforts by the Wolves. The players stopped playing for Casey. He could not get consistency from his squad.

The next largest amount of power on the triangle is McHale, the Matt Millen of the National Basketball Association.

The former Boston Celtic has single-handedly ruined this organization, and makes bad move after bad move.

Despite this, Taylor has basically said he has a lifetime contract and won’t ever be fired.

Taylor has put so much unfounded faith in McHale that the long-time owner has the smallest amount of power in the triangle, when he should probably have the most, being he is at the top.

All of this ineptitude adds up to what we see today in the Timberwolves. A .500 team with a bad mix of players and an aging superstar. It is a team that will not compete with the elite teams in the NBA for years to come.

There is no possible way the Wolves could think they got rid of the problem by firing Casey.

Taylor and McHale are what is wrong with this organization, and they have to know that. If not, I would like to get the recipe of the Kool-Aid they are drinking.

Taylor must get his house in order before any progress will be made.

The following are the things he must do.

First, he has to fire McHale. He has made so many mistakes as a general manager.

I hate to say it because he is a nice guy and is one of us, but a random person off of the street could do a better job. Everybody knows not to give extravagant contracts to one-year wonders, and not to trade valuable first-round draft picks for ordinary players. It is common sense.

McHale has found the perfect formula for stunting the growth of a franchise: spend lots of money, and give away draft picks. The situation is inexcusable.

Second, he needs to trade Kevin Garnett. Because of the mess McHale has put the Wolves in, the only way to get out is to start over. Trade Garnett for young players that will replace all of the draft picks they have given away.

More importantly, trading Garnett would release the shackles on the upper management. Everything they do is to keep Garnett happy. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Wolves hired Casey. If Garnett is gone, the front office will focus more on what is good for the team rather than do whatever it takes to keep Garnett happy.

Third, the Wolves should not keep their replacement coach, Randy Whittman. Casey was fired, in part, because he was not a part of the upper management click.

Casey was an outsider, that is why he didn’t last. Whittman is a part of that click.

He has been an assistant coach with the Wolves for a long time. The changes he brings won’t be different enough to make a difference.

Minnesota needs an outspoken, new coach in here that will shake things up and bring in fresh ideas about how they should run the basketball side of the organization.

Those three ideas will go a long way in straightening the power on the “Triangle of Ineptitude.” It will also help in the overall health of this failing organization.