Coaching search catch up

The Timberwolves’ coaching search began last week shortly after David Kahn relieved Kurt Rambis of his duties and to say it’s going swimmingly would be a bold understatement. There are actually some palatably terrific names on the docket that have already interviewed with another Hall of Fame coach in the wake.

To get you caught up on Kahn’s search, here is a list of the coaches that have been linked to the Wolves in some sort of way — an actual interview or even just a rumor — in the past few weeks.

Terry Porter: Porter was the first to interview for the job a last week, which should come as a surprise to no one. Porter has a rapport with the Timberwolves’ organization and should be popular amongst the fans.

Although Porter is a former T-Wolf and has experience in the driver’s seat of an NBA sideline, he wasn’t the top dog given his past for many fans. Once the news broke of Rambis’ ousting, former player, Sam Mitchell, had his name sprout up in every day conversations. Mitchell won the Coach of the Year award in 2007 by turning around a putrid Toronto Raptors team into a playoff contender, but then quickly faded into the dust.

Whether Mitchell is interested in the job or not, it doesn’t change the fact that Porter may be the team’s next former-player-turned-coach. Porter started his coaching career in Milwaukee. He was there for two seasons and went 71-93 before being fired in 2005. It wasn’t long before Porter snapped up the head job in Phoenix in 2008 but his luck didn’t take a turn since Milwaukee and he found his way out the door after 51 games, winning 28 of them.

So although Porter’s coaching record may be down, he’s never had a full opportunity to showcase his leadership abilities. In Minnesota, Porter would have the ability to mentor a young, talented bunch into a faster-paced, offensive-oriented game. He’s a highly respected man in the NBA and would certainly make a difference in the current inexperienced culture in the Timberwolves’ locker room.

Mike Woodson: Woodson’s name has been all over the place this summer. Just about any team with a head coaching vacancy, Woodson has been rumored to be a contender. It’s no different here in Minnesota, and rightfully so.

Woodson is known as the coach who turned the Atlanta Hawks around. Before the current day Hawks who have trouble missing out on the top 4 in the Eastern Conference, the old Hawks — From 1999-2007 — were just pitiful and were struggling staying afloat financially. They hired Mike Woodson with the future in mind and he hung in there to the best of his abilities. Once Atlanta’s front office nailed down players like Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith, the Hawks turned their losing ways around and made the playoffs for three straight seasons. After a second round series dropped to the Orlando Magic, the Hawks announced that they would not resign Woodson for the 2010-2011 season.

And here we are. Woodson’s devotion toward changing Atlanta’s losing atmosphere showed his true passion as an NBA coach. Not to mention some serious adversity. Woodson would need the same mentality if he were to come to Minnesota. He’d have a similar situation in Atlanta where he’d have the talent to work with but would need the time and support from the front office to turn Minnesota’s ship around.

Bernie Bickerstaff: Even when Rambis was still the coach, the hottest rumor on the stove was the opportunity of bringing in Bernie to reunite him with his son, J.B., who was an assistant here under Rambis. It was a classic NCAA football “Coach-in-waiting” situation. Those never work out, to put it nicely, and neither did the Wolves’ dream. J.B. bolted for a job on the Houston Rockets’ bench under Kevin McHale. But that didn’t put the Wolves’ interest in Bernie to an end.

Although the dream of Bernie mentoring his son in the art of coaching for a few years and having him take his place at a later date didn’t last, Bernie can still be a valuable coach for the Timberwolves. He ranks 33rd in the NBA in all-time wins with a record of 414-512, coaching for an array of teams such as the Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets, Washington Bullets/Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats, his last head coaching gig.

The experience is certainly there but a fair question to ask is: Without J.B. in the shadows, is bringing Bernie in worth the investment?

Rick Adelman: Adelman should be considered the prize of this ongoing search for a coach. After not agreeing to a new contract with the Houston Rockets, he left H-town after four seasons and 183 wins, but his legacy was constructed long before that.

Adelman has an illustrious coaching career, having coached some of basketball’s most impressive teams in recent history. It started in Portland, where Adelman was graced by Clyde Drexler’s on-court presence in his first head coaching gig. It continued on with the glory days in Sacramento, led by Chris Webber, Jason Williams and Vlade Divac.

The Sacramento days is what Kahn ought to pay close attention to when assessing Adelman’s comfortability in Minnesota. A lot of the pieces that Adelman had in Sacramento are here in Minnesota. It starts with the point guard, Ricky Rubio. Rubio possesses special abilities to open the court and find his teammates; just the way Jason Williams did in his heyday, utilizing his flash and glam to keep the crowd on their toes. Wes Johnson reminds me a little of Doug Christie in his deep range and quick trigger. And Derrick Williams has the ability to play an inside-out game such as Chris Webber, with even a little more finesse.

Some of the pieces are there and the Timberwolves’ roster obviously goes much deeper than those mentioned already. Kevin Love, although not a solid comparison to anybody on the old Kings team, already has a special relationship with Adelman. Love and Adelman’s son attended the same high school and were good buddies. Because of that, Adelman has been openly fond of Love’s talent and accomplishments so far in the league.

Even though the match seems like it was made in heaven, it’s not quite at that point just yet, at least in Adelman’s mind. Actually, Wolves fans should be grateful to hear the Adelman even spoke with Kahn via phone on Saturday. Typically with a coach of Adelman’s caliber, once they hit a certain age — Adelman’s already 65-years old — a front office job, something less stressful, would seem to be perfect. Or even a coaching job for a veteran-based squad would be ideal. But a coaching job for the youngest team in the league, despite the talent and potential, is a big and risky step for any veteran coach in the league.

With that said, Wolves players, fans and Kahn alike should be praying Adelman’s “interest” in the job is substantial. If it is, the Wolves may have landed the big one.

Don Nelson: It shouldn’t be surprising to hear about Don Nelson’s interest in the job. After all, his daughter and grandchildren live in Minnetonka. But the real reason is Nelson can’t get enough of young, fast and immature rosters.

Nelson dealt with a similar situation to the Timberwolves in Golden State, his last head coaching gig in 2010. His first two seasons in Oakland went well, making the playoffs in his first season, thanks to a solid season from Baron Davis and Jason Richardson. But then the downhill slide sloped ever so slightly and Nelson couldn’t prevent the fall. Heated conversations between Nelson and the front office led to confrontations between Nelson and the players, including a tiff with current Timberwolf, Anthony Randolph.

Whether Nelson is willing to part with having total control over all team operations remains to be seen, but there’s no denying Nelson’s coaching ability. He’s one of the league’s best coaches in history and has won Coach of the Year on three separate occasions. The Wolves would be honored to have Nelson pace their sideline as long as his ego doesn’t get in the way. His job here would be to teach the game to these youngsters, not change who they are. Also, the Wolves may need a few more years to prove competitive within the league. Could Don Nelsons age, 71, be a problem in the future?

Larry Brown: Brown is next up to interview for the Timberwolves. There’s an obvious trend going on here. Aside from the first two interviewees, Terry Porter and Mike Woodson, all other candidates are 60-years old or older.

Kahn is looking for experience, a perennial winner. After gambling and missing on a younger, less experienced coach in Rambis, Kahn needs to go with a sure-thing, thus the reason to call in three or more Hall of Fame coaches.

Brown, unlike Nelson, has a championship under his coaching accolades. He also won Coach of the Year in 2001 with the Philadelphia 76ers. Brown likely wouldn’t race the tempo as much as Kahn would prefer, but he would be able to settle these players down and teach them the game properly.

The biggest question around Brown, aside from his age, 70, is indeed his ability to handle younger players. In Brown’s last coaching stint in Charlotte, he struggled to manage younger players’ attitudes and egos, specifically Tyrus Thomas. Brown seemed to lose patience with young, struggling players and grew impatient with their slower learning curve. That would be a major problem in Minnesota given the state of such a young roster.

Can the fastest get any faster?

So, to answer the question — Can the fastest get any faster? — in its most simplistic and existential form: Yes. How you get to that point?

Zach Lowe takes a stab at it here:

Minnesota played at the league’s fastest pace, but it rarely got out in transition.

Go on, explain.

The Wolves turned the ball over a lot — more often than any other team, in fact. When you cough the ball up a lot, possession changes happen fast, and a team’s number of raw possessions increases. This can make it look as if a team is playing Nellie-style, fast-break ball when they are really just dribbling the ball off their feet.

Lowe also goes on to explain another reason for the Wolves’ speedy woes last season was their lack of clock management skills. All too often the Wolves heaved up inefficient shots from all over the court just way too early in the shot clock. Part of that is due to Luke Ridnour’s minimal abilities at the starting point guard spot. He ought to feel more at home on the bench behind Rubio instead of being the on-court general for more than 30 minutes a contest. Another reason you can blame our poor clock management on was Kurt Rambis’ philosophy and strategy itself. The Wolves often tried setting the pace of their half-court offense by lobbing the ball into Darko on the low block. That seemed to be a dead end that usually resulted in; A) A turnover; or B) Poorly executed running floaters in the lane, usually going sliding to his left because he couldn’t go to his right hand. Those two results clearly loop back to Lowe’s point: The Wolves ultimately played fast because they never made the most of their possessions by turning it over or chucking up a contested shot, regardless of the spot on the floor.

Upon hearing that, now, you just have to ask yourself if David Kahn’s vision of an up-tempo squad is really going to succeed. Or even give the fans what they want to see.

Zach Harper states his opinion:

Where I disagree with Kahn’s assessment that Wolves fans want to see up-tempo basketball is in the word “want.” To say Wolves fans just want to see up-tempo basketball seems to be extremely shortsighted. I think Wolves fans are willing to settle for up-tempo basketball if the wins aren’t going to be pouring in any time soon. If up-tempo basketball is going to make the Wolves more competitive than they were last season, I think it’s something we’d all settle for.

Isn’t it time to settle down? Even if it means just steady improvements on a year to year basis — 25 next year, 30 the next, etc. — instead of an unlikely giant leap in victories, I feel most fans would be on board. This team has been such a loser for the past five years that they’ve officially lost their homebase as well as their dignity. And all the rebuilding with no secure hope until recently doesn’t help the cause one bit. Watching a fast-paced team does, and will, put fans in the seats, but it comes down to the Wolves’ will to win in the future that will help solidify that fanbase to where it once was. It doesn’t happen overnight, ya know.

So although a faster-paced team is Kahn’s desired future, and it may seem “shortsighted,” but until they learn the ways of winning, it’s what we need to settle for. Until they learn to put together quality offensive possessions that are sprouted from terrific team defense — See Miami Heat, — a fast-paced, offensive juggernaut will hold over fans in the meantime.

I have a feeling Don Nelson doesn’t have that same type of defense-creates-fast breaks, open-courts and-efficient offense philosophy. Hmm, lots to ponder.

Kahn's coaching carousel

We haven’t even started the (coaching) process yet.

That’s what David Kahn had to say during his press conference yesterday, where he finally, and so politely, relieved Kurt Rambis of his duties as the head coach here in Minnesota.

It’s sorta comical, ain’t it? But you shouldn’t expect anything less from Kahn. After all, he’s Kahn, one of the league’s most outspoken, clumsy, awkward, passive-aggressive and downright open and honest GM. Which is exactly why this Rambis situation, as baffling and unethical as it may appear from the outside, was Kahn’s doing and you couldn’t have expected it to be handled any differently. Calling coaches while Rambis was still hired, allowing the news of the firing to leak over a month before it actually happens, it’s all on Kahn.

But we have to digress; it’s time to move on, yet again, and not allow our haunted past affect our bright future. It’s time for yet another coaching search.

So let’s look at the candidates. Lorenzo Romar, Lawrence Frank, Larry Brown, Don Nelson, Bernie Bickerstaff all seem to be potential candidates. But, unfortunately, since it’s so late in the coach choosing game, names like Quin Snyder, Kelvin Sampson and even our very own, J.B. Bickerstaff, have already snatched up assistant coaching jobs elsewhere.

It’s plain and simple to see what the Wolves need in a head coach: Defense, leadership and experience. Let’s go through potential coaches and see whether or not they live up to those standards and if they’d be a good choice for Kahn and the Wolves.

Lorenzo Romar: Romar is currently the head coach for the Washington Huskies. He’s turned around what was a bad program into a viable contender each and every year in recent years. He has a knack for coaching some solid players both on and off the court. Brandon Roy, Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas come to mind, both tough players on the court with a can-do attitude paired with a sense of humility and humbleness off.

Although Romar has turned Washington into a great basketball school, you can’t ignore the fact that he’s still just a college coach. Predicting his success as he moves from college to the pros is very difficult and a jump that not many coaches make, probably for many obvious reasons. He runs a more up-tempo type of game, which is what Kahn is looking for. But still, it’s hard to disregard that he has no NBA experience, coaching wise, and isn’t a perennial winner, despite his success at Washington.

Romar will not be the next head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The fit isn’t quite there and he seems overjoyed in Washington, anyways. Especially after inking a pretty sweet deal not too long ago, guaranteeing him over $1 million a season plus bonuses.

Lawrence Frank: I’m as surprised as you are that Frank hasn’t received more calls this Summer about open head coaching spots. He’s one of the most experienced available coaches out there and has a special knack for defense. He led the New Jersey Nets to four playoff appearances out of six seasons and was fired after losing their first 16 games in 2009. But don’t let him take the blame; that team was atrocious.

Anyways, Frank is currently an assistant for the Boston Celtics, meaning he’s had a little time to learn from one of the game’s bests in Doc Rivers. His tutelage is certainly worth something, just ask Tom Thibodeau. Frank could be a great fit here for the Timberwolves. His offenses may not have run as much as Kahn hopes for in 2011-2012, but will push this team’s offense to the limits when he needs to. And after coaching Jason Kidd for those years in New Jersey, what better coach to come in and mentor Ricky Rubio?

Frank deserves another chance. Do I think he’s a world-class coach? No, but he’ll certainly bring in enough firepower, discipline and hopefully some defense to win us some games next season. Seems like a solid option when you add it all up.

Larry Brown: This one’s beyond me. At what point does a man as old as my Grandfather get sick of these young ballers’ attitudes and egos? Somehow, someway Brown keeps wanting more and more of the NBA to the point where he’ll coach to his grave as long as he has the shot.

Brown’s most recent project, the Charlotte Bobcats, never really succeeded. Charlotte made the playoffs in 2009-2010 but that’s really because they actually had a good team. And even in Brown’s hayday’s in Detroit he was given a team stacked to the brim with talent.

He certainly has the experience and the defensive schemes to make this team improve on that end, but maybe, the most important aspect, is having a relatable coach for these young players that will help them grow. We all saw what Brown did with Tyrus Thomas: Nothing. Do we really want Anthony Randolph’s growth stunned by Brown? Or how about Kevin Love, for that matter? It’s too big of a risk for the Wolves to go that old with this young of a team. I just don’t see it happening.

Don Nelson: Woah, Nellie! Marc Stein of ESPN dropped this bomb shortly after the official news of Rambis firing broke networks. And I think Anthony Randolph has been struck dead upon hearing this news.

Nelson’s last coaching gig was with Golden State, where he was fired after the front office blew up after some turmoil. One described that situation to me as Nellie as the lone man running the entire show. Sounds awfully familiar here in Minnesota… But I digress.

Kahn wants speed, sheer speed. He’ll certainly get that with Nelson. Nelson is infamous for his up-tempo offenses in the past, even in Golden State. But what’s special about the idea of Nelson on Minnesota’s sideline is his winning ways. The NBA’s most winningest coach in history has, well, won a lot of games. The Wolves’ young roster is in desperate need of a coach who has been there, done that and can use his experience in big moments and games to show this team some winning ways.

There’s only one major flaw with Nelson as our head coach. The man is 71 years old. The Timberwolves are the youngest team in the league. Just like the situation would be with Larry Brown, the fit really isn’t there because younger players need a coach who they can relate to in order to catch on to his philosophies and winning ways. Oh, and not to mention, our defense certainly wouldn’t get much better, if any. Just throwing it out there.

Although Nelson seems like a good fit, I’m just not so sure he’s the coach we need. Now, that’s not to say I wouldn’t mind having him because I feel he’d be a certain upgrade over Rambis, but if we want to get picky in the process, — which we really shouldn’t be — there’s another candidate that must be a better fit.

Simmons/Kahn: A Love Story

wrathofkahn.jpg (500×384)

The man who created this parody of Minnesota's GM sat down with him a few days ago

I’ll admit: I’m a big fan of Bill Simmons. As Jonah mentioned in my intro to Howlin’ T-Wolf, though I cheer for the T-Wolves, my true love is the Celtics. Simmons is a Celtics fan. He’s opinionated, he’s smart, he’s a talented writer, and he’s kind of an ass. I’m also opinionated, I like to pretend I’m smart and talented, and I’m also kind of an ass. Simmons gets me.

So, like everyone else who knows about such things, when I discovered that he was about to have David Kahn on his podcast, the very same NBA GM for whom he created the internet sensation “KAAAAAAHN!“, well…I’m not going to pretend that June 24 wasn’t a big day for me.

If a day in history is big enough to bring David Kahn and Bill Simmons together, quite frankly it’s big enough to take notes. Here are mine. (And here’s a link to the actual Podcast.)

1:15- Kahn tells Simmons “it feels like it’s been more than two years, trust me Bill.” Savvy move by Kahn, laying the hostilities out on the table early. Sure enough, Simmons immediately confesses, “I’ve written some unkind things about your performance over the years.” This is the very dictionary definition of an understatement, but while it might not have cleared the air, the fog of hatred is a little less dense afterwards.

1:52- Kahn answers Simmons’ queries about the Jonny Flynn trade. Say what you want about Kahn, he is candid. A trained monkey with a good set of contacts could see that the reason Jonny Flynn struggled in Minnesota was because of his injury, and the Triangle offense that Rambis imposed upon him, but not many GMs would admit it. Kahn’s reasoning for unloading Flynn is solid, saying that Flynn wasn’t in a situation in which he could succeed, and it was kinder to Flynn to unload him before he damaged his stock any more.

3:39- Kahn claims that one day, Jonny Flynn could be one of the very top point guards in the NBA. Soooo…Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams…and Jonny Flynn. Not seeing it. Sorry Kaaaaahn.

4:27- In response to Simmons’ question (paraphrased) “Didn’t you totally screw up by not grabbing Stephen Curry in ’09?”, Kahn launches into a very long winded explanation, which boiled down to “we didn’t have any point guards at the time.” Unfortunately, Simmons’ follow up question wasn’t “ok, so you drafted Rubio. What the hell possessed you to continue picking them?!”

5:14- Simmons annoys me for the first time in the interview, as he sounds incredibly condescending as he tells Kahn (about the Mike Miller/5th pick deal) “no, that was a good trade. I’ll defend that trade.” Really Bill? You would do that? For me?

5:50- Kahn claims he is “yet to meet a player who says ‘God, I wish we could play another grind it out half court 82-81 game tonight.'” Clearly, David Kahn never met Shaquille O’Neal. Or, for that matter, his own center last year, Darko.

7:29- A priceless moment. Simmons asks “if you wanted to play uptempo, why did you install the triangle offense?” Kahn’s response: “well I didn’t…” HEAVILY emphasizing the world “I” before starting to explain, realizing that he needed to think of a glossed over way to say “I haven’t fired Rambis yet, but you are damn straight I’m going to soon”, then saying “let’s come back to that in a second.”

8:00- You know, as Kahn wrapped up his explanation for not taking Curry, it’s actually fairly plausible. They took Rubio knowing he might not come over right away. They took Flynn for the immediate future. They didn’t think Curry could play point guard, and, coming out of college, that was a very popular opinion. They traded Lawson when they got him to Denver for Martell Webster, which in hindsight is a terrible deal, but at the time was fairly respectable. Ok, Kaaaahn. You can have this one.

9:10- Kahn essentially blames Rambis (correctly) for not installing more of a moving offense, for pushing the Triangle too much. A little later, the best things he can say about Rambis are “he’s a great guy and a wonderful family man. He’s a smart basketball man.” It took Kahn three tries to say something nice about Rambis’ basketball know-how. Seriously, he can’t be around much longer, can he?

10:15- Is it possible that the reason Kahn has been stringing Rambis along so badly is because he feels too connected to him? Kahn: “When you inherit what we inherited roster-wise…this is painful. I think we both underestimated how it hard is was going to be.” Sounds like a guy who put a friend in a bad spot and doesn’t feel right dropping him.

11:45- Kahn starts saying “Bill” every couple of words, which makes him sound like a used car salesman trying to unload a lemon. This seems mildly incongruous, because what he is saying makes a lot of sense…that the biggest disappointment of the season isn’t that they lost a lot of games, but that they seemed to get worse throughout, rather than better, a very disappointing result for a young team.

12:47- Kahn (in my opinion) correctly assesses Darko’s potential: somebody who is good to have on the team in the correct role. (Insert your own joke about his role being “practice squad”) I like that Kahn doesn’t try to claim that Darko is a starting center in this league. Good sign.

17:40- Well, Kahn is quite correct in saying that Rubio certainly hasn’t hit his potential at the age of 20, as well as his claim that one needs to be patient with young players, especially point guards. But what he fails to address in his answer is that the disturbing thing about Rubio is that he got noticeably worse. For the record: I don’t think we need to worry about Rubio’s drop in production. I think the difference in NBA rules and having better teammates will both make Rubio a successful point guard. It just seems like Kahn could have done a better job expressing that to Simmons.

19:00- Kahn makes a VERY interesting point (in my mind) about letting go of Jonny Flynn, saying that Jonny had a couple of tough years, and in order to become a place that free agents would want to go to, organizations need to be willing to say “I don’t think it’s going to work for you here, we need to try to get you somewhere where you can have a career.” Ways to make your franchise UNattractive: throwing a ranting, immature hissy fit when your star signs elsewhere. Yep, Dan Gilbert. I’m still looking at you.

20:20- Is it possible? Am I gaining respect for (gulp) Kaaaahn? David scores another excellent point in response to Simmons’ follow up question “Well, couldn’t you have traded Rubio and kept Flynn, to make Minnesota a better place for him?” saying that with all of Minnesota’s scorers who really really like to shoot, having a pass first (to a fault) point guard like Rubio makes a lot of sense. And…he’s right. Whoa…

20:36- Ballsy question from Simmons, which, boiled down, was “You are going to be fired if Rubio doesn’t pan out. Discuss.” To Kahn’s credit, he didn’t get angry or defensive. Impressive on both ends. Can somebody explain to me why these two enemies are making for such a pleasant interview?

21:53- Simmons finally asks the question I’ve been dying to hear: “Can you explain the Rambis situation to me?…Van Gundy killed you guys last night during the draft, he thought Rambis was basically being dragged through the mud…” before giving Kahn an easy out by continuing the question: “Adrian Wojnarowski wrote basically that you guys were trading back in the draft to get money for Rambis’ buyout. Did you think that was a fair comment?” The second question was infinitely easier to answer, and, thus, far less interesting. It opened the door for Kahn to wax poetic about the old days back when he was reporting and people got their facts straight, including a long story about Steve Kerr discussing Amar’e for Al Jefferson. This story featured lots of unnecessary details like “It was a Sunday” and “We had the usual chit chat”, and full of more car salesman “Bills”. Several minutes later, as the story draws to a close, Kahn seemed to be hoping that Simmons would be sufficiently distracted from his original question, which you may have forgotten as well by now. (It was the whole “dragging Rambis through the mud” thing.) Fortunately for us, Simmons was not so easily fooled…

25:50- Simmons reiterates his question: “I don’t understand why this is taking so long. Is there some legal issue or something you can’t discuss?” Kahn’s answer in a nutshell: Things were too raw emotionally at the end of the season to discuss the future, and things stretched a little too long in between discussions. Wonderful, David. Can you imagine a less professional answer? Can you imagine a boss in ANY other profession, after two consecutive epic failures, saying “Hey, things are a little too emotional right now, let’s take some time to think before we move forward?” NO! He would immediately fire the incompetent employee and look for a suitable replacement. And that replacement’s name should have been Dwane Casey. (Alas.)

28:05- My new favorite metaphor, from David Kahn: “I can’t just walk up the aisle and [and pick up some veterans]. The NBA is not a grocery store.” Golden.

29:57- Simmons makes a slightly unfair comment about getting a new coach as he asks “What do you have to do going forward?” No surprises from Kahn’s answer; more veterans. But, as he points out, some optimism: coming out of the lockout, Minnesota is likely to have a ton of cap room to chase those veterans, no matter what the agreement. Kahn says that in a couple years “we just might be kinda good. We just might.” Did you leave yourself enough room to wiggle, David? Just a little bit?

32:24- Kahn lands a jab! In response to Simmons asking if he enjoyed the “KAAAAHN!” joke, Kahn responds by asking Bill if he shouldn’t be driving somewhere, in reference to Simmons mailbag, in which he claimed that he might drive all the way to Minnesota from LA if Rubio actually did come over. While this is a good line from Kahn, it contradicts his comments of roughly 30 seconds ago in which he said he doesn’t really read stuff on the internet anymore. Still! Credit where credit is due, it was a good line.

34:10- Though it’s not exactly news, I love Kahn’s point about Love’s value on a running team. Having a great rebounder who also throws a fantastic outlet pass and can trail the play and knock down a three if necessary? Perfection. I’m getting shivers just thinking about it.

34:37- Kahn swears on his son’s life that Kevin Love has never been a part of any trade discussions. Apparently, David Kahn doesn’t value his son the way that Dan Gilbert does. No wonder the T-Wolves lost the draft lottery.

Aaaaaaaand scene!

If ever it was true that an interview was a contest, this was it, and I would say that David Kahn actually won. Please, leave comments down below letting me know your thoughts, I’m as eager to hear your reactions as I am to share mine.

But I’m encouraged, Bill, as much by Kahn’s optimism as by his realism. His expectations didn’t seem unrealistic, Bill, and his plan for the future seem attainable. But most importantly, Bill, he seemed to recognize the correct issues, and be working to fix them. More on the lineups and styles of offense later, Bill, but for now, if you agree with me, you can take home some comfort knowing that while our GM’s decisions may be inscrutable at times Bill, at least he does a damn good interview.


So, who's the coach?

Kurt Rambis: Head Coach or not?

It’s been 51 days since the Timberwolves’ season ended and yet there’s still no clarity into who the head coach for the ’11-’12 season will be.

In the meantime, Kurt Rambis, with two years still remaining on his contract, has had no problem in being who he’s supposed to be, even if it means showing up when desperately unwanted. Although Rambis missed the NBA Draft combine in Chicago last week, he was present for the Wolves first draft workouts as well as today’s free agent workout.

“The way I see it — I’m doing my job,” Rambis said today at the Target Center. “I’m still the coach of this team until something happens otherwise.”

In what seemed like a shock at the moment, Rambis actually talked to the local media in attendance today. Perhaps the plan was to show his side of the story, a story which has turned into a huge soap-opera ever since the end of the season. Rambis said that he and Kahn still need to have a substantial conversation about his future with this franchise. They’ve only had “minor conversations” since season’s end.

This whole situation is starting remind me an awful lot like that friend who’s been dismissed from the group but always has a knack of finding his way back in. The only difference: These are grown men with real jobs acting unbelievably childish over a situation that can be resolved with a simple Donald Trump line: You’re fired!

It could be that easy, and perhaps should be. Rambis is the Timberwolves’ worst coach in history given his record. He’s only won 32 games in the past two seasons and sports the league’s worst losing percentage.

Really, though, why is this dragging out for so long? Perhaps Kahn and Taylor already have their mind made up and are just looking to focus on the draft, but still, it seems like they’re taking the wrong approach at going about this. Shedding off something as important as choosing your head coach isn’t right, especially before the draft where the head coach could give some insight into. Jerry Zgoda, Timberwolves beat writer for the Star Tribune, asked if the situation could be tied to the pending lockout hanging over our heads and Rambis said, “Don’t know.”

It seems to me that the situation is just being handled improperly altogether. “It’s not how I would handle it, no…I think everybody has reasons for why they conduct their business in the way they want to conduct their business,” Rambis said. “If you’re asking me if that’s what I’d do, no. That’s not how I would handle things, but everybody’s different.”

Sounds like someone thinks the same.

The reason for this immature standoff or David Kahn’s silence could be literally anything. At least Rambis is still interested in resolving the issue. At least he’s showing the motivation to go to these workouts to analyze and do his job as the head coach of this team. For me, this is enough evidence to let him come back for a year, barring he makes some changes with his assistants as well as his philosophy on offense (The Triangle-ish offense just ain’t working and will seriously suffocate Rubio’s creativity in the open court.) If someone is devoted enough to attend workouts where he probably doesn’t feel very welcomed says a lot about his character and his passion for his work. Even if he’s lost 100 more games than he’s won, he’s also had to work through some difficult roster building as well as a boss, who’s the league’s jester as well as afraid of conflict.

But now’s the time for a little conflict. The resolution of this team’s vision has gotten that much clearer with Rubio on his way. Now all they need is an established and enthusiastic coach who’s ready to lead this young team through thick and thin to growth and improvement and, ultimately, some wins. But seriously, who’s that gonna be? It’s about time we make that decision.

Stuck in the middle

From left to right: Kahn, smug white dude, bastard child (I'm kidding, of course, in the same sense Kahn was...)

It just seems like they never catch a break. Inconceivably, even with the greatest odds of walking out with the winning card and an enormous grin on his face, while possibly saving the franchise and his legacy with one combination of ping-pong balls, David Kahn was caught in the middle between a Hall-of-Fame-coach-firing GM and a chronically ill 14-old good luck charm for a team that was demoralized harder than any other before.

“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said. “Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right.”

But who can you blame? Kahn, obviously pissed at the outcome of tonight’s suspenseful events, nailed it right on the head. No one wants to wake up in the morning and see that the lonely Wolves ended up with the #1 pick. Rather the feel-good story — Americans love those — of the son of Cavailers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, is a real headline-catching type of way to sum up the night.

It’s just unfortunate things had to play out as they did. The tens of hundreds of Wolves fans, anxiously anticipating who may be in that second-to-last envelope as it was disclosed, were gunned down and their hope, perhaps, shattered, including my own to a certain extent. Wolves Nation desperately needed the top pick tonight. Not to fulfill their quest in the Irving Sweepstakes but rather to inject some life, some sort of passion, back into a fandom that once thrived rabidly thanks to the smallest sense of competition and, of course, a little lottery luck.

But things aren’t all that bad. Because, really, if it weren’t for bad luck, the Wolves would have no luck at all. Now the Wolves have to wander into unchartered waters a bit. Without a clear-cut choice with the second pick, the Wolves have tons of options to play with. The only thing with that is that our GM is somewhat of an ape: He decides on instinct, not upon reason, but that’s an entirely different story. Like I said, the Wolves really have some ways of turning this fortune into just that, a fortune. It all just comes down to careful and calculative decision-making. They could begin with trading the pick outright and moving down, hopefully picking up some veteran leadership in the process (Chad Ford already noted that Kahn immediately made this adamant upon learning our fate.) They could go with Williams, the projected #2 coming into the lottery, but then Kahn would face an imminent obstacle of choosing between seemingly redundant spitting images of each other in Williams and Beasley (Do you choose the clinically insane scoring machine or a similar type player with a better, smarter head on his shoulders?) Or they keep the pick and make a reach for a more pressing need, perhaps an upgrade at center with Kanter or improving the interior defense, which is a must, and take Biyombo. Both would be highly criticized as reaches but they’d fill needs. Simply put. (But are the Wolves really in a position to draft by need, though?)

It’ll be an interesting month coming up. Kahn now has the alarming task of signing Ricky Rubio before the CBA expires on May 31st, as well as gain some insight into what to do with this upcoming draft. But one thing is clear: They need help and they need it fast. A little luck and fortune wouldn’t hurt either.

Rambis' job status

Yesterday I wrote my reasoning for why Rambis should be feeling the heat of potentially losing his job along with all of his assistants. I’ll be the first to admit that the piece may have been premature, especially after hearing some details form this morning.

ESPN Insider initially reported the potential danger of Rambis’ status of head coach, but since then has started to take a different stance.

Kevin LoveMartell Webster and Anthony Tolliver spoke to the media on Tuesday and they all said Rambis isn’t to blame for the Wolves poor season.

“It’s easy to say when you’re having a tough year,” Love told the Pioneer Press. “It’s not a direct reflection on him. It’s all on us being a young, youthful team. It’s unfair. As a player, I have Kurt’s back.”

“He gets blamed for everything because he’s the coach,” Tolliver said. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. It’s up to us out there on the floor to execute the game plan. As players, we have to take more accountability and responsibility for our actions.”

“He’s always putting the work in,” Webster said. “He and the staff never give us the short end of the stick and just throw us out there and say, ‘Whatever happens.’ We’re the ones who have to go out there and play. As players, we can always say the right things, but the proof is how you do on the court.”

Take this how you want, but the players are essentially doing and saying what they’re supposed to. With a GM infatuated with younger, newer players, these guys are supposed to say things like this in order to get the most burn on the court in the final 12 games of the season. No player in their right mind would speak out against their coach at the end of the season unless there was serious turmoil from before that just needed to explode out to the public, but in these players’ cases, all of them are just looking for job security, even Love, who’s looking for a contract extension in Minny (Say he speaks out negatively against Rambis, he could very well find himself following the same path as Big Al).

So no matter what the players say, it comes down to the front office’s opinion.

President of basketball operations David Kahn refuted the report that Kurt Rmabis could be fired after the season and that Kelvin Sampson could be his replacement.

“The notion of Kelvin Sampson is completely false,” Kahn told the Pioneer Press, via the Timberwolves media relations director Mike Cristaldi. “That report is not true in all aspects.”

Rambis didn’t seem too concerned about his job security.

Ok, so maybe the front office, Kahn in particular, won’t go against their beliefs either. Like the players, Kahn, with his best interest at heart, wouldn’t speak negatively against Rambis either. I mean, that’s his guy! He was the guy who hired Rambis in the summer of 2008, hoping for a coach to absorb the blow of some rough seasons in hopes of turning this ship around. If Kahn decided to fire Rambis this summer, all it would show is Kahn admitting he was wrong, which is something no GM wants to swallow.

So what about the guy above the front office? He’s been awfully quiet…

“Owner Glen Taylor cannot be happy with how Rambis handled [the end of Kevin Love's double-double streak] or how he has coached, period,” he wrote. “In fact, I know he’s not remotely happy. I can assure you, the Timberwolves will be looking for a new head coach and a full bench of assistants as soon as the season is over.”

This quote comes from a journalist… from the New York Post. Remember towards the beginning of the season where another New York paper released rumors of Ricky Rubio’s desire to play for the Knicks? I’ll make it simple for you: New York has as many, if not more, bad reporters as good reporters. The last few reports regarding our Wolves coming out from the Big Apple have been malarky at best, so take this with a big grain of salt. Glen Taylor is a tough cookie to crack, some of Minny’s best reporters know that, but clearly the head honcho should be upset — we don’t need some New York article to tell us that. Kahn promised a turnaround in three years, and although we’re not there yet, the Wolves took maybe a half-step forward towards a brighter future, but that may be it. Compared to last year, this year could even be more disappointing because there were higher hopes, so that alone should be enough for Taylor to put his foot down. This ship is his after all, and he indeed has the final say, right? Let’s just hope he steps in, for once, and demands the change needed to take a step in the right direction.

The singular move… Literally

David Kahn, the laughing stock he’s been of the NBA during his reign as GM here in Minny, has a plan — or is it had a plan? When he arrived about two years ago, so beautifully gracing our presence, he announced that the Wolves would no longer dwell in the NBA’s basement for much longer. He vowed that in 24 months this team would be turned around, well on its way to the Playoffs.

It’s safe to say that no one’s perfect. Neither is Kahn’s plan. Let’s be honest with ourselves: nothing ever goes according to plan.

But what I’ve taken away from the latest trade deadline to come and go without so much of a single “Ah ha!”move, it’s that Kahn’s plan has taken a turn for the worse. Or else he really does have something cooking and no one’s allowed to see magic happen behind the steam.

Kahn’s been preaching the “singular move” for quite some time now. Last season the Wolves teased with the idea of picking up a much-needed superstar to man one of the wing positions. Andre Iguodala was a relevant trend at the time and arguably a great fit here in Minny. This season, rumors flew about of the Wolves finally achieving some sort of stability at the point guard position. Whether that meant moving Jonny Flynn and simplifying matters for the future or making that risky move and reach for a big name such as Steve Nash, we figured something would’ve happened on one of the most exciting days of the year for a guy like me.

So what happened?

The past two trade deadlines have something eerily in common: They were both busts. Plain and simple. Kahn failed to nail down that singular move to turn the franchise around as promised before. Whether he just refused to work the phones like some desperate telemarketer working for pennies on the dollar or teams just really weren’t interested in our young assets — I highly doubt that — the deadline came and passed without the slightest ounce of progress towards the future — No offense, Anthony Randolph.

Some might view the Brewer-Randolph/Curry trade as a complete bust. We gave up a fan favorite for two demoralizing human beings that have never been happy in the NBA. Curry has been nothing but an obliterate slob who refuses to lose weight and Randolph still has not found a place to call home where he can hone in on his outstanding skills and make something of his NBA career. But you could also spin the trade with “a glass half full” approach. Randolph has the talents to become a Lamar Odom-like player, who could prove to be vital on a title run as we’ve seen in recent years with the Lakers’ success. Sure, we gave up a lovable character in Corey Brewer, but let’s face it: he was never going to learn how to shoot or dribble effectively, and even his strength of being a defensive wizard never panned out — he was a tremendous on-ball defender but took way too many gambles going for steals and loose balls.

No matter which side you decide to take, we can all agree this wasn’t Kahn intended on being that singular move, you know, the one we were looking for. But why didn’t it happen to us? We saw the deadline turn the OKC Thunder into legit NBA title contenders instead of the Lakers’ punching bag. We saw the Portland Trail Blazers turn their unfortunate injury-riddled situation into one of the most physical defenses the Western Conference will ever see in the Playoffs — if they get there, of course. Even the Eastern Conference was awarded with two of the West’s ultimate superstars, who are likely to go on and lead their respective squads into Championship contenders.

Other teams left the deadline basking in the fact that they found a new hope or a fresh start. The Wolves left the deadline literally at the same place they began.

Fans should be angry. Fans should be disappointed. Not angry or disappointed in the fact that the big, singular wasn’t made but that no singular move was made to make our team better immediately. Randolph is good, don’t get me wrong, but like I said, he’s a project — a big one at that. I’m talking well beyond the one trade made over two days ago. From the buzz of things that I gauged on today’s Twitter feed and the flurry of ESPN reports, the Wolves had opportunities to make a move, something, anything. Nothing happened and so that’s why fans should be bummed out and deflated of all hope. Kahn had the opportunity to make one simple thing happen and elevate this desperate fanbase’s morale but it just didn’t happen. We were all let down for the second time under his command and there may not be any reason to forgive him for that.

What’s left to hope for?

Kahn’s plan isn’t worth jumping ship quite yet though. Even after bashing the man for his questionable calls and dormant manner at today’s deadline, he still has a chance to redeem himself. Only one chance that is.

With a new CBA in the works and tons of assets to handle, including a sure lottery pick — potentially top 3 — this team has some leverage. But as we’ve seen before, it’s a matter of being able to utilize that leverage and create a better situation on the court in 2011-2012.

The best reasoning I could muster up on why the Wolves didn’t make their move today is because they’re the team lurking in the shadows just waiting for the moment to pounce. The new CBA could crack down on the higher payroll teams more than we think, and who will be ready to welcome that “overpaid” All-Star from their team? The Wolves.

Hope also comes in the form of this magical being from Spain. The name’s Ricky Rubio. The game could very well stabilize a position the Wolves have never had properly filled for more than three years tops at a time. If indeed the magician from Barcelona makes his way to the frozen tundra, it’d be a whole new ball game. Whether or not he can be relied upon as the savior of this God-forsaken franchise remains to be unseen, but he’s easily our brightest glimmer of hope of having any success in the next year or two.

All hope is just a game of cat and mouse for now. The talk of the new CBA is just speculation at this point — A lockout is looming, for God’s sake. Perhaps it’s arranged in such a way it gives larger markets even more power than they have now, which leaves the Wolves in an even darker place. And the actual coming of Rubio is completely out of anyone and everyone’s hands except his own.

The only solid hope fan’s can insert their faith into is Kevin Love and potentially Michael Beasley. Without these two, this season, no, this franchise would be nowhere. We wouldn’t have to root for a double-double every night so Love can break some record. We wouldn’t have Beasley’s antics to sit back and enjoy as well as his raw potential of becoming one of the league’s most lethal scorers. Things would truly be in disarray without these two. They’re easily the building blocks for the future no matter what Kahn makes happen this summer and beyond.

All we can hope for is stability from those two. Everything else is as good a guess as yours. I advise not placing any wagers on the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves, especially with what could go down this summer.