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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.