There is no word yet, but indications have been strong ever since David Kahn’s end of the year press conference, just before the Wolves’ last game of the season, that 2nd-year Head Coach Kurt Rambis would be, most likely, let go this offseason. Two-years into a 4-year deal he signed with the Wolves, Kurt Rambis has successfully accomplished the feat of being the worst coach in franchise history. I’m not just saying that though!! By his 32-132 overall record. That’s right, it became official about mid-season, Kurt Rambis is the worst coach in franchise history (record-wise at least).
Needless to say, there is a very good chance the Wolves won’t be bringing him back.
Owner Glen Taylor has told David Kahn and his front office staff to gather information and evaluations of Rambis’ & the Wolves last two seasons, for him to look over, before Kahn and himself make a final decision.
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune feels quite strongly that Kurt Rambis won’t be courtside for the Wolves next season and he feels that the decision needs to be made sooner rather than later, so the Wolves can acclimate a new coach and have him ready by the Draft this summer.
Zgoda brought up a good point in his article (found here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/120214289.html ). He talked about the CBA and the $ situation that could present a problem for the Wolves. Basically, is Taylor going to want to fire Rambis, but still have to pay him as well as a new coach in a season that may be shortened OR may not even happen!
Either way, we’ll take a look at some of the potential coaches the Timberwolves could look to interview, hopefully soon, assuming that Rambis is indeed fired. Which, if you go to almost any TWolves fan site, where comments can be posted, seems to be the general theme!
Furthermore, the fact that when asked, the Timberwolves players didn’t stand up for their new coach. At least most of them didn’t. Of course in the midst of a 17-win season and en-route to the worst record in the NBA who can blame ‘em? I CAN! I’ve always felt the coaches get the most fault for the lackluster play of their team, but when a team thrives, who gets the glory? It’s certainly not the NBA coach who spends every waking hour going through hours of film, coaching and working with 15 different personalities, all the while trying to get them to buy into his system. Let’s face it, these 65 losses this season and the other 67 last season aren’t all on Rambis, at least that’s how I feel! It’s the players fault, it’s GM David Kahn’s fault (when the Wolves drafted Rubio and Flynn in the same draft, before hiring Rambis who had no need for either of those point guards! and, yes Coach Rambis. In a 17-win season, there’s plenty of blame to go around!
However, when asked Kevin Love, “beat around the bush” and said he wouldn’t mind if Rambis stayed, he also said that he wouldn’t mind a change. We know they don’t have the greatest relationship and if it’s going to take a new coach to keep Love happy and in Minnesota, long-term, that alone would seem worth it! Wesley Johnson also said a change wouldn’t be bad, that the Wolves players could handle it, citing when Anthony Randolph came over in the latter stages of the season, how the team was able to adjust. In earlier interviews toward the end of the year, Martell Webster, Anthony Tolliver and Kevin Love have all stated, in some way, that they didn’t believe that all the Timberwolves’ players were buying into his system. However, there was one player, that I know of, that stood up for his coach: Michael Beasley. The first-year Timberwolf backed his coach and hoped Kurt would be staying beyond this season.
Although Rambis does have some support; very little, I think we can all agree that there are certainly some names out there that could possibly be had as new coaches. Below are just a few of the available candidates.
Rick Adelman: He just was “fired” as the Rockets’ head coach. Now at 65/6 no one is going to confuse him from that young guy sitting on the Miami pine, but he still feels he can coach in this League and will certainly be looking for work in the future. But, really, is Adelman going to want to come to this train wreck (it hurts me to say: train wreck, but what else do you call a 17-win season that ended with a 15-game losing streak?!)? Adelman would certainly be a valuable assest to the Wolves bench. His knowledge and wisdom as well as his approach with players and his system have been effective in the past, but ultimately, chances are slim he’ll want anything to do with the Wolves…
Mike Brown: Former Coach of the Year, Former Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I mean, he was fired from the Cavaliers, they hired Byron Scott and suddenly the Cavs went from a 65-win team to a 65-loss team! OH, wait a minute, I nearly forgot LeBron James bolted hometown Cleveland! No, but really, the year Mike Brown won Coach of the Year, I remember laughing about it because, really could the Cavs have won 45 games that year if you replaced LeBron with, let’s say…Jason Kapono (that’s obviously an extreme example), quick answer: NO! I don’t know much about his system or how well he can build a team, because you know watching those Cavs the past few years (not this year!) that they always seemed to have a strong chemistry on and I assume off the court (excluding of course Delonte and LeBron’s mother :/). I have heard from a few people that they would like to see Brown as the Wolves new head coach. It seems to me, that he should certainly get an interview and be a strong suitor for the position, beyond that, I really don’t know!
Jeff Van Gundy: The former New York Knicks and former Houston Rockets coach and current NBA analyst could certainly be a target for the Wolves this offseason. Van Gundy has expressed interest in returning to coaching in an interview with Bill Simmons in 2009. He’s got a 748-430 overall record in his career.
Jim O’Brien: He was fired from the Pacers earlier this year, but he is one of the more/most unlikely options. O’Brien isn’t a great coach and isn’t known as a players coach either. O’Brien’s relationships with his players and the Pacers were struggling as a result. I wouldn’t expect the Wolves to make him an offer or any team in the near future will make him an offer.
Frank Vogel: Frank Vogel is currently the head coach for the Indiana Pacers. He is the current interim coach since O’Brien’s firing. Word is, that at the end of the playoffs for the Pacers, Vogel will be a potential candidate for the long-term job, however chances are good that the Pacers won’t be bringing him back, unless the Pacers have a big upset over the Bulls.
Mike Dunleavy: Dunleavy was the Clippers coach before he was fired and was replaced by Vinny Del Negro. The chances of Dunleavy ever getting another coaching gig is and should be slim. He’s not a great coach and hopefully, if Rambis is indeed let go, is someone that will not be considered, but he’s certainly an option.
Jerry Sloan: Sloan has said in reports that he would consider a return to the pine, while other reports suggest he wouldn’t even consider any offers, as he’s happily retired. I don’t think the Wolves would be a location for the 69-year-old. I don’t see Sloan wanting to be a part of this young, still struggling squad. However, hopefully he’s someone the Wolves at least try and get in contact with.
Kelvin Sampson: Since 2008 Sampson has been an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks. This was a name that got brought up in a Star Tribune article earlier in the year, when there was initial word that Rambis may not be back with the TWolves next season. Since the 80s he was a coach for various college teams: Montana Tech, Washington State, Oklahoma & Indiana. If Rambis gets the boot, I’d expect Sampson to be one of the Wolves’ top candidates.
Lawrence Frank: The former-New Jersey Nets head coach and current Boston Celtics assistant is another potential candidate. Like a lot of the coaches in this list he’ll be on the radar of a lot of the coach-seeking teams: Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers & Detroit Pistons. Lawrence Frank is a solid coach despite being the coach of the Nets when they won just 12 games a season ago.
John Kuester: There is little doubt by anyone that John Kuester will indeed be fired this offseason. John Kuester has not had a good career in Detroit missing the playoffs the last two seasons and sour relationships with his players on and off the court. The fact, however, is that Kuester will be available. If the TWolves even consider him, they’ll be making a HUGE mistake.
Keith Smart: There have been no official announcements yet, but chances seem likely that the rookie coach Smart will not be back with the Warriors next season. Chances are good he’ll catch on with another team as an assistant coach again, but chances are slim the TWolves will consider the current Warriors coach.
Mike Woodson: Former Atlanta Hawks coach Woodson is a talented coach that led the Hawks to multiple playoff appearances after rebuilding the team from a number of lousy seasons. This has been a big target of the Houston Rockets recently, but I hope the Timberwolves will seriously consider Woodson.
Larry Brown: Former Charlotte Bobcats coach Brown has stated that he is most interested in returning to college coaching, but he’ll certainly be an option for the Wolves. Larry Brown shouldn’t be a top candidate for the Wolves though, Brown has been notorious for trading away the players he simply doesn’t like (Tyson Chandler, Jason Richardson etc.) the last thing the Wolves need is a coach that’s going to come in and try and blow up the roster.
Kevin McHale: The former Timberwolves coach and current TNT NBA analyst seems like an extremely unlikely hire. Call me crazy, but I don’t see the Wolves re-hiring the guy they fired just two seasons ago. However, you never know, he does have a strong relationship with All-Star Kevin Love, so it’s certainly still a possibility.
Patrick Ewing: The all-star Knicks center and current Magic assistant has long been vocal about wanting the opportunity to get a head coaching gig. He should certainly be on the short list for the Wolves as a possible hire. He could really help to further develop the Timberwolves big men: Love, Beasley, Randolph, Milicic, Pekovic, Tolliver etc.
Eddie Jordan: Former 76ers and Wizards coach seems like another unlikely hire for the Wolves, but like a lot of these guys…he’s available. He was fired after just a season with the 76ers, obviously the guy they got this past summer (Doug Collins) has made the most of his team (7th seed in the East). Jordan should and most likely not a possibility for our Wolves.
Brian Shaw: The current Los Angeles Lakers assistant and likely replacement for Phil Jackson this offseason. Brian Shaw wouldn’t be an ideal hire whatsoever. It would make not sense whatsoever, because he’s “cut from the same cloth” as Rambis as a former Jackson assistant, running the triangle.
Mike Budenholzer: The current San Antonio Spurs assistant is a potential “get” for the Wolves. Budenholzer is a good assistant working under a great coach: Gregg Poppovich. Under Pop, Budenholzer has learned quite a bit, Budenholzer has also been a candidate for the Rockets.
Don Nelson: Former Golden State Warriors coach was fired just before the start of the 10-11 season. In a recent report Nelson has said he will listen to any offer that comes his way. His relationships with a couple of the current Timberwolves’ players could be a good or bad thing (I don’t know their relationships with each other): Anthony Tolliver & Anthony Randolph. I could see him being a serious candidate if Rambis is indeed let go.
Bill Laimbeer, David Wohl, John Blair-Bickerstaff, Reggie Theus: The current set of Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coaches. I doubt that any of these men will get serious consideration. Bill Laimbeer’s name has come up a few times, but chances are slim that the former Detroit Shock (WNBA) head coach will get an offer. He’s continually expressed desire to be a head coach. As for the other three guys, if the Wolves decide to fire Rambis, I’d expect them to “clean house” with his assistants (especially considering the new coach would hire a new set of assistants).
As I said before, there’s no indication at this time as to whether or not Rambis will indeed be fired, but if he is, there’s your list of possible coaching options. Updates will be available on this site if there’s any word on Rambis’ future with the Wolves. Until then, thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!