Kevin McHale hired and fired both Flip Saunders and Randy Wittman in Minnesota. But now that Wittman has replaced Saunders in the latest Wizards’ coaching shakeup, McHale was in no mood to reminisce about the time he shared with either man in Minnesota or discuss their current situations.
“I’m not too worried about Washington,” McHale, now coach of the Houston Rockets, said after a lengthy practice at Toyota Center on Thursday. “We’ll play them tomorrow night and that’ll be the last time I think about them till next year because we don’t play them again. So, I don’t think too much.”
Wittman won his debut with the Wizards (3-15) on Wednesday and is hoping to lead his team to its first road win on Friday at Toyota Center. If his opinion about the change was good, bad or indifferent, McHale wasn’t willing to share.
When reminded that he worked with Wittman for nearly 12 years in Minnesota, McHale responded, “I worked with Flip, too. Again, I’ll prepare tonight. Watch film of them. All last night, I watched our bad performance against Milwaukee. Then we’ll watch what Washington’s doing and prepare for that. Other than that…I’m not thinking about....”
Does he have any thoughts on how the Wizards might look with Wittman at the helm as opposed to Saunders? Before waiting to hear the end of the question, McHale smiled and said: “No thoughts. I’m pretty much not going to answer anything you’re asking on that. That’s usually a hint. If I don’t answer the first question, I’m not answering the second or third.”
McHale then smiled, reached out his fist to offer some dap and walked away.
After both Saunders and Wittman were dismissed, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor forced McHale to leave his position as vice president of basketball operations to take over the more laborious task as coach.
McHale reluctantly took over for Saunders midway through the 2004-05 season but returned to his front office position after the season ended. He hired Dwane Casey, but replaced Casey with Wittman after 1½ seasons. Then after he replaced Wittman in December 2008, McHale was dismissed completely from the Timberwolves organization at the conclusion of the season.
After taking two years off to work as an analyst for Turner and NBATV, McHale has returned to a profession he once dreaded and taken over as head coach of the Rockets. When the Rockets defeated the Wizards, 114-106, at Verizon Center on Jan. 16, McHale offered perfunctory comments about being “happy” for Saunders, his former college teammate and colleague for nearly 10 years with the Timberwolves.
Nothing close to that before the rematch with the Wizards with Wittman at the helm. Should be a fun game on Friday.
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