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Continued: McHale takes on the LeBron issue

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 17, 2010 - 7:14 AM

Kevin McHale, who drafted Kevin Garnett and did a good job of coaching the current Celtics star, was asked what he thought about Garnett giving advice to Cleveland's LeBron James that made it sound like Garnett thought he stayed too long with the Timberwolves.'

Garnett advised James to put loyalty to the Cavaliers aside and do what's best for himself and his family.

"I mean, I'm sure he's looking at it and thinking he wished he'd won more; every player wants to win more," McHale said. "I think LeBron's got to look at it and say, 'Hey, where's the best place for me to try to win?' If you're going to be the man on those teams you're going to have to really step up and push it through, and sometimes it's hard.

"But, it's going to be hard. I mean, I guess the only thing you're saying then, if you're Garnett giving LeBron advice, is look at the other team and go play with Dwyane Wade in Miami, go play with Derrick Rose in Chicago. But, if he goes to New York, who else is going to go there with him? If he feels that, 'Hey, I can't win a championship unless I have another top-tier superstar player with me.'"

Expected more

For the first time McHale made statements on the record about his former team's play last season. He said he expected more from the Timberwolves.

"Yeah, kind of, I thought they'd do a little better," McHale said. "Putting a lot of pressure on a guy like Johnny Flynn to come in and play. I thought that getting Ramon Sessions in would help take some of that pressure off of Johnny Flynn, but any time you're putting the ball in a young guy's hands, anything can happen."

McHale said he was surprised Al Jefferson and Kevin Love weren't able to mesh a little bit better and pointed out they actually didn't play that much together.

"It just seemed like that just wasn't something that Kurt [Rambis] and the staff wanted to do," he said.

McHale said he was happy to see Corey Brewer, a player he drafted, make a good comeback after that terrible knee injury of the year before.

"Yeah, I've often said, with no talent at all if you just show up and play hard you can win 15 games in the NBA," he said. "That's like a minimum just by showing up and playing hard.... Unless you have major injuries and stuff like that, you should be able to do a little better than that. But it was a learning year for a lot of the guys, and hopefully next year they'll be better."

McHale added that it's hard to rebuild. .

"Patience is the thing that's very, very hard to do," he said. "We had traded Kevin away two summers ago, last year at this time, three summers ago now, and I said you're two years into trying to rebuild. I thought that Al and Kevin Love were a nice little upfront combination, and we had a lot of free-agency room for this summer, and a lot of stuff that the Timberwolves had in place.

"It's just hard, because you rebuild on top of another rebuild, and that's what you can't get into. You just can't keep on rebuilding on your rebuild. You've got to stay the course, try to get better, and then hopefully add pieces as you go along. But, again, we'll see, hopefully next year. They need a little luck. I'm doing the Tuesday night show down for TNT and the draft lottery show, and hopefully they get a little bit of luck and they can get a good, high pick and get the thing turned around."

Made good decision

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said he was shocked two years ago when men's track and field coach Phil Lundin walked into his office and announced that he was going to leave his current position to become the track coach at Division III St. Olaf.

Maturi did his own search, talked to some top track coaches in the country and then decided to make cross-county coach Steve Plasencia the new track and field coach as well as have him continue as cross-country coach.

The Gophers had not won an indoor or outdoor track title since 2003 when Plasencia took over two years ago.

Now the two indoor track teams he has coached and the two outdoor team have all won conference championships.

And he won both this year without Hassan Mead, an outstanding distance runner who was sidelined all year because of an Achilles' tendon injury.

Jottings

Twins pitcher Scott Baker, who was removed from the game after he was hit on the foot by a batted ball Friday against the Yankees, said he is ready for his next start.

"I feel great," he said. "I think me coming out had more to do with the situation of the game, not me feeling any sort of pain or whatever. The next day I was a little sore and I was able to get my work in, and today I feel great. So I'm good to go."

He was asked to describe pitching against the Yankees, a team the Twins beat in Yankee Stadium for the first time since July 4, 2007, on Sunday. He cited four players who hit high in the lineup, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, when he explained the difficulty of pitching against New York.

"You know what, they're about as tough as it gets," he said. "I don't know that they necessarily have the depth that they've had in previous years, but when you're leading off with Jeter and you've got A-Rod in there and Teixeira and Cano, and all these guys are definitely major league hitters, you definitely have to stay on top of things and try to stay a pitch or two ahead of them. So it's not always easy, but I still think good pitchers get good hitters out."

Former Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz has decided to retire from baseball after the Florida Marlins signed him and then sent him to Class AAA New Orleans.

Edina High School product Cole Nelson pitched a three-hit shutout in Auburn's 18-0 victory over Tennessee on Saturday. The shutout was the first in a complete game by an Auburn pitcher since 2005. Nelson, a 6-7 lefthander, improved to 6-3 with a 4.60 ERA. He spent two years at Des Moines Area Community College before joining the Auburn program. He was drafted in the 45th round of the 2009 draft by Tampa Bay. Auburn, ranked No. 18 in the nation, improved to 34-17.

The Montreal hockey team that upset defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh has three former Wild players on its roster -- Marc-Andre Bergeron, Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot. ... San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who has his team in the NHL's Western Conference semifinals, coached the Wild's American Hockey League affiliate in Houston for four years.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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