No real shock here, this was expected, but we pass along the news anyway.
Bernie Bickerstaff will be formally interviewing for the Minnesota Timberwolves vacant head coaching job on Friday, according to the Star Tribune.
Bickerstaff, who is currently an assistant in Portland, has spent 13 seasons as head coach in the NBA with stops in Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte. He has a career 415-517 record.
Bickerstaff’s son J.B. had been on the Timberwolves staff last season — one of the reasons Bernie was first brought in according to reports, the father would take the job while grooming his son to take over. But J.B. bolted and joined Kevin McHale’s staff in Houston.
Already Terry Porter and Mike Woodson have interviewed for the job, and Don Nelson has expressed interest and had phone conversations with team GM David Kahn.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a fast start with interviews — Terry Porter and Mike Woodson have sat down with Wolves management, Don Nelson has spoke to them on the phone and likely will get an interview.
But don’t count out Bernie Bickerstaff, tweets beat writer Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
Expect Timberwolves still to interview Portland assistant Bernie Bickerstaff, even though his son J.B. has joined Kevin McHale in Houston
The younger Bickerstaff had been a Wolves assistant and the plan had been to bring in 67-year-old Bernie to both coach for a couple years and groom his son to take over the big chair after him. Then J.B. bolted to Houston.
The age thing does not seem to concern the Wolves too much, Nelson is 71 and in the running.
Expect the Wolves to take their time with this decision — because of the lockout there is only so much the coach can do right now anyway. A staff can be assembled and plans made, but since players cannot be contacted there are limits on how much work can get done.
For the past few weeks, once the ownership change went through and John Kuester was let go, it was thought Mike Woodson was he frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons. But Celtics assistant (and former Nets head coach) Lawrence Frank reportedly impressed owner Tom Gores in the interview. The Pistons have been split, and stalled.
So Woodson had another interview Monday — with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Detroit News had the report.
Timberwolves GM David Kahn said he wanted an up-tempo coach to take over his team, which makes this interview puzzling. When helping rebuild Atlanta, Woodson’s teams never finished higher than 13th in the NBA in pace, and his best teams were close to the slowest teams in the league. Woodson is a defense first guy — something the Wolves could use — who wants to grind out games. Not really a fit with Minnesota’s personnel (especially Ricky Rubio) or what Kahn said he wanted.
It is possible Woodson (or his agent) was able to get the interview jus to put some pressure on Detroit.
Minnesota has also interviewed former NBA head coach Terry Porter (whose two teams in Milwaukee did not play at a terribly fast tempo, but when he took over for Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix his Suns did run a lot).
Then there is Don Nelson, who has talked with Kahn on the phone and is interested. Nelson’s teams run, but they don’t play much defense and Nelson has his own views on who should and should not get minutes (just ask Anthony Randolph). Nelson coaching the Wolves would be interesting, and they would win more, but the off-the-court train wreck that would inevitably happen might be the more interesting part of that pairing.
But Nelson still seems a better fit or what Kahn wants than Woodson.
Don Nelson is getting all the hype, but he is still in Maui. (If you have to be somewhere, that’s not a bad place to choose.)
But former Bucks and Suns head coach Terry Porter is in Minnesota talking to the Timberowolves official about their head coaching job, according to the Star Tribune. Porter has been the color commentator on Trail Blazers television broadcasts this past season (one of the league’s complete homer broadcast teams, which made them hard to listen to).
Former Timberwolves player and former Milwaukee and Portland head coach Terry Porter today is the first candidate to formally interview for the team’s head-coaching job, according to league sources.
(Wolves GM) David Kahn has made background research calls and talked by phone to at least one other candidate — Don Nelson — but Porter is the first to come to town to interview with Kahn and likely owner Glen Taylor.
Porter was the coach in Phoenix right after Mike D’Antoni left and in one season they played at the fourth-fastest pace in the league, but despite having 46 wins did not qualify for the playoffs. And they played terrible defense (26th in league in defensive efficiency). That season the Suns had Amar’e Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Richardson and Steve Nash. Porter also coached two seasons for the Bucks (where their pace was much closer to the league average).
They did run and have a good offense, two things Kahn said he wanted. Also, Porter played 17 years as an NBA point guard, he could be a good mentor for Ricky Rubio.
Nelson is still being considered. But the first interview goes to Porter.
Whoever gets the job replaces Kurt Rambis, who was 100 games under .500 in two seasons as coach.