McHale to return as Timberwolves basketball VP

MINNEAPOLIS -- They wore bags on their heads and carried
signs that read, "Fire McHale!"

The Minnesota Timberwolves fans who want Kevin McHale out are
becoming more and more vocal, and some turned out to express their
displeasure at the season finale.

But McHale isn't going anywhere.

McHale said Thursday he will return as vice president of
basketball operations next season and plans on bringing star Kevin
Garnett and coach Randy Wittman back with him.

"It was a bad season, there's no other way you can say it. ... It was a bad year and I did a bad job. That's the way it is."
-- Kevin McHale

"I don't want to walk away with the team in this state," said
McHale, who said this year's team resembled the "dysfunctional"
squad he inherited when he was named vice president in 1995.

In a season-ending news conference, McHale addressed a long,
frustrating year in which his Wolves finished 32-50 and missed the
playoffs for the third straight season.

"It was a bad season, there's no other way you can say it,"
McHale said. "It was a bad year and I did a bad job. That's the
way it is."

Many fans have become frustrated with McHale for not surrounding
Garnett with a better, more competitive team. One such fan was
kicked out of Wednesday night's season finale against Memphis for
holding a sign that read, "Fire McHale!"

"That happens," McHale said. "There is a frustration level
with the fans and I think everybody understands that. It's our job
to try to see what we can do to correct that without banking on
those ping pong balls and just getting lucky."

"We have to have guys who are willing to go out there and do
some more sacrificing for each other."
-- Kevin McHale

Despite the criticism, McHale said he will be back for another
season and promised to make changes to a roster that struggled with
on-court chemistry and consistency.

Problems started in January when McHale fired coach Dwane Casey
with the Timberwolves at 20-20. Wittman took over, but the Wolves
went 12-30 with the taskmaster at the helm.

McHale praised Wittman's leadership and discipline, saying he
hoped Wittman would benefit from having a full offseason and
training camp to instill his scheme.

"We have to try to put together a product on the floor that's a
lot more competitive and a lot more pleasing to watch," McHale
said. "I mean there were times out there where I thought we were
very hard to watch. You'd be watching the game and I'd be like,
'Ugh. That's bad.'"

Regarding Garnett, McHale said "we're not planning on trading
Kevin." Garnett has an opt-out clause in his contract after next
season, causing many to speculate that the Wolves could move him to
avoid losing him without compensation after next season.

Garnett missed the last five games of the season with a sore
right quadriceps and was at home in California when the Wolves were
blown out by Memphis.

It was the team's seventh straight loss to end the season, a
string that helped them hold onto their 2007 lottery pick.
Minnesota finished tied with Portland for the sixth worst record in
the league, guaranteeing a spot in the top 10 of the June's draft

Had the Wolves not finished with a top 10 pick, they would have
had to give their selection to the Clippers as part of the Marko
Jaric-Sam Cassell trade two years ago.

Wittman says there will have to be drastic changes for the
Timberwolves to get back to respectability.

"We've got a lot of soul-searching from an individual
standpoint," Wittman said. "We should be disappointed. I'm
disappointed. I think everybody in that locker room should feel

The biggest obstacle in the way of improvement for the
Timberwolves are the contracts that McHale has doled out. The team
has 12 guaranteed contracts next season, including big deals with
Mark Blount, Troy Hudson and Mike James.

That limits McHale's options in the offseason, for the most
part, to the draft and trades. However he does it, McHale has to
make changes to improve team chemistry and eliminate some of the
selfishness that plagued the team this season.

"We have to have guys who are willing to go out there and do
some more sacrificing for each other," McHale said.