Saturday , Feb , 12 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Flip fired: T-wolves axe Saunders

Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) – After getting off to a disappointing start to the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Flip Saunders as head coach on Saturday. Vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale will take over the duties for the remainder of the year.

Flip fired: T-wolves axe Saunders


The Timberwolves are marred in a major slump, posting a 1-7 mark over their last eight contests to fall to 25-26 this season. The club dropped a 100-82 decision to the lowly Utah Jazz on Friday night with star Kevin Garnett scoring a season-low tying 12 points.

Minnesota, which advanced to the Western Conference finals last year, is 11 1/2 games behind Northwest Division leading Seattle. If the playoffs were to start today, the Timberwolves would not qualify for the first time since missing the 1995-96 postseason.

Saunders had been at the helm of the Timberwolves since replacing Bill Blair after 20 games of the 1995-96 season. Last year he led the club to its best- ever mark of 58-24, which was also good enough for the league’s top record.

Saunders, 49, leaves the bench with a 411-326 mark. He will be re-assigned within the organization.

McHale, a Boston Celtic great, started his career with the Timberwolves in 1993-94. He has served as a special assistant to the coaching staff (1993-94), broadcast analyst (1993-95) and assistant general manager (1994-95) before moving into his current role in May of 1995.

This will mark the first time McHale has been a head coach in the NBA.