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Kurt Rambis feeling Minnesota?

July 28, 2009 |  9:08 am

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...Kurt Rambis on sidelines

The Minnesota Timberwolves finally seem ready to fill their long vacant head coaching position, and Kurt Rambis remains firmly in the mix, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Now that he’s back from four days in Spain that he termed “productive,” David Kahn is embarking upon his second — and presumably final — round of interviews for a coach to replace Kevin McHale, a decision that presumably could come by the end of the week. Former NBA point guard Mark Jackson, Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis and Houston assistant Elston Turner on the short list — with Jackson and Rambis clearly the frontrunners — in a search in which Kahn appears to have interviewed more than a dozen candidates, including Wolves assistant Jerry Sichting. League executives long have considered Jackson the favorite, but those in the know in the league think Rambis is getting strong consideration.

Zgoda says he believes Jackson is a "slight favorite, if only because it might be easier to get him to sign on the dotted line in terms of years and salary..."  Meaning he'd be cheaper.

Rambis' name has been kicked around coaching searches around the league for years, most recently when the Kings were looking for their next sideline chief.  Rambis received an offer from Sacramento, but because the Kings wouldn't wait until after the Finals to make their hire (and because, both on and off the floor Sacto is eligible for FEMA disaster assistance and looked to make a lowball hire to whatever sucker they could get to take the job) Rambis passed.  

Minnesota is a marginally better situation, with solid players on the frontline in Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.  Jonny Flynn looked like a keeper when I saw him in Vegas (all appropriate Summer League caveats acknowledged) and while I'm not a big Ricky Rubio guy, plenty of others are and even if he doesn't play with the Wolves they're likely to extract value from another team by trading his rights.  Meanwhile, should they be able to convince future free agents to winter in Minneapolis, the Wolves have scads of what executives lovingly call "payroll flexibility."

On the other hand, they suck, are likely to suck for a while, and are working with a front office that is hardly proven.

Assuming the Wolves are willing to meet Rambis' basic contract demands, whether he'd take the job would have much to do, I would think, with how likely Rambis feels it is he'll replace Phil Jackson when the Zen Master retires.  Personally- and this is based on casual conversations over the years with players, media, and other people around the team and league but NOTHING that would be considered "inside" information on the organization's thought processes (i.e. I'm speculating)- I feel the longer PJ stays on the sidelines, the more likely it is Rambis gets passed over for Brian Shaw.  It's possible Rambis feels the same.  Certainly there's no guarantee Rambis would get the job, even if he sticks around.  Do you take the bird in hand, if it's offered?

What B-Shaw is missing, more than anything, is experience on the sidelines. 

Every year he picks up more, and while work as an assistant isn't the same as being in charge, given the experience of the Lakers' staff, guys like Frank Hamblin and Jim Cleamons who are well paid, comfortable in their jobs, and unlikely to top lists for open jobs in other teams, Shaw could be shepherded through his early growing pains.  And obviously Shaw's relationship with Kobe, a solid one in which 24 respects him but Shaw is still able to speak honestly and even critically of Bryant when necessary, is key.  

So we'll see. If the Wolves hire Rambis, then it becomes a question of Shaw vs. an outside candidate. If they go with Jackson, one of the more interesting subplots surrounding the Lakers continues through the season. 


(Photo: Chris Carlson, AP)