Tag: Kurt Rambis

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Give David Kahn credit, he hit a home run this summer


Kicking Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn has been a favorite past time of bloggers and NBA writers for years.

With reason. There were moves like brining in Kurt Rambis as coach to run the triangle offense — an offense minimizes traditional point guard play — then instantly drafting Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn back-to-back at No. 5 and No. 6 in the draft. Rambis turned out to be a flop, anyway. There was giving a four-year deal to Darko Milicic. There were oh, so many more.

But give the man credit — this summer he knocked it out of the park.

He convinced Ricky Rubio to leave Barcelona and come over to the United States next season, even when there were serious questions if there would be a next season. Rubio has his flaws and his jump shot needs work (a lot of work), but he can defend and has a court vision you can’t teach. He could be special. And he’s just 20 but has been playing on the international stage for years.

Kahn then got lucky — the Timberwolves won just 17 games last season so they had the most ping pong balls in the lottery — and Kahn ended up with the No. 2 overall pick. He shopped it around, apparently asked for the moon, and when he didn’t get it he kept it. Then he did the right thing and took Derrick Williams with it — that guy can score at the NBA level and will be a good small forward. How much Williams can develop his defense and all around game remains to be seen, but he can finish and has looked good in transition and at the rim in pro-ams. Playing with Rubio he will get some chances to show that off.

And now Kahn has gone out and hired Rick Adelman as coach. It is a great hire for this team. (Not everyone agrees with that, but I think it is.)

First, Adelman comes in with a good relationship with Kevin Love, something Rambis lacked. Where that really matters is Love telling Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune that hiring Adelman makes it much more likely Love re-signs with Minnesota (he is up for an extension off his rookie deal whenever the lockout ends).

Where Love’s frayed relationship with his previous coach showed was when Rambis sat Love and used other tactics to get him to play better defense. Adelman comes in with gravitas, Love (and others) will listen to and respect him. They will follow. Also, both Love and Rubio are high hoops IQ guys, guys mature for their age, who should react well to Adelman’s style.

Adelman’s teams run, and with the Timberwolves roster (Love’s outlet passes, Rubio in transition, Williams and Beasley finishing) they must run. This team is made to run. The problem was last year the Wolves also turned the ball over a lot — Adelman’s teams do not do that.

When they do go into the half court, Adelman’s corner offense matches well with the triangle principles Rambis teaches and big men who can pass like Darko and Love. This should be a fit.

Kahn’s moves this summer have made the Timberwolves a lot better. They may not make the playoffs next season (this is a very deep West still and they have a long way to go) but this team is on the right track.

Minnesota got a lot better in the last few months because of David Kahn. He deserves the kudos now.

Report: Timberwolves will talk to Adelman, Nelson

Houston Rockets v Boston Celtics

Minnesota is finally getting around to letting go of the coach who was 100 games below .500 in two seasons, and finding a new one.

They are looking at some name veterans — Don Nelson and Rick Adelman — according to tweets from Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources say Wolves plan to talk to both Nelson and Adelman to gauge their interest in replacing Rambis. Kahn, remember, wants up-tempo coach

Adelman would do a good job, and he reportedly has a good relationship with Kevin Love (which is more than we can say for outgoing coach Kurt Rambis). However, the thoughts around the league is that Adelman is better suited for and only wants to coach veteran teams, while Minnesota is young and very green.

We told you Nelson was interested. Nelson is a stylistic fit, especially with Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams coming in next season. But his last season in Golden State — when he was acting like your crazy uncle, benching players that deserved more time and generally running the ship into the rocks — has to scare any team considering giving him a job. Or it should.

There also are people around the Wolves who say not to rule out Bernie Bickerstaff, particularly if his son J.B. — who was an assistant in Minnesota last season but is slated to join Kevin McHale in Houston — can be convinced to stay. That, however, seems a real long shot.

Then again, predicting what the Timberwolves will do next is a fool’s errand.

Tolliver says Wolves need to find defensive coach


We — fans, media — always seem to focus on the offense. So the story about how Kurt Rambis didn’t work as a coach always seems to focus on the triangle offense. Which the Wolves ran in a different form than Phil Jackson’s Lakers teams, due to personnel.

But that was not the problem according to Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver.

And he has ideas for what David Kahn and the Wolves front office need to look for in a new coach, which he explained to the Star Tribune.

“I never really thought the offense was a problem, the defensive side was,” Tolliver said. “We scored enough points to win games. We struggled with the ability to get easy buckets in crunch time, but our main problem was the defensive end. Whoever they bring in next, it’s really important that they be a defensive coach.”

Asked what kind of coach the team needs to hire next, Tolliver said, “Someone who’s going to be a disciplinarian. Kurt’s a really nice guy. Sometimes that got in the way. I’m not saying he’s too nice, but sometimes it’s good to have a coach no likes to be a jerk.

“I know several players on the Bulls and nobody really liked Tom Thibodeau, but that’s O.K. You don’t have to like the coach. You just have to be able to play for him.”

For the record, the Wolves were 23rd in the league in offensive efficiency, 26th in defense. So, while technically the defense was worse really we’re jsut splitting hairs — both sides sucked. Both need to get better.

As for discipline, Rambis learned from Jackson, the master at manipulating and guiding players to doing what he wanted by getting them to beleive it was best for them. Jackson also largely had veteran teams with powerful personalities that drove the team to win. The Timberwolves have none of that.

To quote Bull Durham, “They’re kids, scare ‘em a little.” The new coach may not want to call them lollygaggers, but you get the idea.

Kevin Love speaks well of Rambis, talks new coach

Kevin Love

Kevin Love and finally fired Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis did not have a great relationship. It was one of the reasons Rambis was let go (that and all the losing).

But the way Rambis was fired, left to twist in the wind for three months after the season, was just an embarrassment. It was bad enough that even Love sounded sympathetic to him in an interview with CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball.

“(Rambis) was put in limbo for a while by our front office. They took their time and weighted all their options. Kurt’s going to find another opportunity. He’s going to get another job soon.”

As for what’s next, nobody knows. At the press conference announcing Rambis being let go, Wolves GM David Kahn talked about wanting to have a relentless fast breaking team. That despite the fact the Wolves played at the fastest pace in the league last season — nearly a possession a game faster than the Knicks. They ran, but they ran their way to 17 wins because of the roster.

Now they will run with Ricky Rubio at the point and a new coach. Love had hopes for a good relationship with whomever gets brought in to take the big seat.

“You always hope for the best. I want to have a great relationship with whoever coaches the Timberwolves or whoever coaches me throughout my career….

“As far as us having a young team,” Love said, “we’re going to need, I won’t say a disciplinarian, but a guy who can teach us how to win and has been there and done that.”

It will be interesting to see who the Wolves get. They are one of only 30 NBA teams, there are a lot of well-qualified people who want a head coaching job there. But some of the best, guys who believe they will have other options, may be hesitant to come to Minnesota after how Rambis was treated at the end of his tenure. Plus, in taking their time, a number of good coaches have already come off the market. But with the lockout, there is no real reason to rush the decision.

Minnesota finally, officially fires Kurt Rambis

Kurt Rambis

We’ve known for a month this was coming — maybe longer, when your team wins 17 games the coach’s seat is going to be hot. But David Kahn and the Timberwolves dragged this out in an embarrassing fashion.

Now it is official, both the Associated Press and others such as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo (who had it first) have confirmed the firing is official.

For the past month, the Timberwolves seemed to be trying to embarrass Rambis into quitting, like they were trying to get out of paying the remaining $4 million on his deal that way. Rambis, you and I have one thing common: We will put up with a lot of humiliation for $4 million. He would not quit when asked to do a written report on the team, while the team dragged out the process hurting his chances of getting another job next season, while they flirted with putting him at a desk in the front office.

All this made the Wolves look bad. All this means the top coaching candidates out there would think twice about stepping into that situation as coach.

Now he’s out. Portland assistant Bernie Bickerstaff will be brought in to interview (and his son J.B. is already a Wolves assistant coach). Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson also is rumored to be in the running.