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.
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.
From The Oregonian’s Joel Freeman:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have asked the Blazers for permission to interview asst coach Bernie Bickerstaff for their head coach position.
The Timberwolves are about to fire head coach Kurt Rambis (if they can’t shame him into quitting so they don’t have to pay him the remaining $4 million on his deal) after stumbling to the league’s worst record last season. Despite the Wolves’ season-long futility, there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the franchise: Kevin Love had a season-long coming out party last year, and the Timberwolves will be adding two high-lottery draft picks after drafting Derrick Williams and getting Ricky Rubio to come over from Spain.
Among other coaching jobs, Bickerstaff was the first-ever head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, and was recently been an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls under Vinny Del Negro. Bickerstaff’s son is currently an assistant coach with the Timberwolves.