Kurt Rambis heading to Minnesota?
According to the Times' own Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner, that appears to be the case. Rambis flew to Minneapolis for what would constitute the third meeting between Clark Kent and the Wolves brass. And given how this franchise is in serious "trimming the fat" mode when it comes to allocated dollars, I understand why Brez and BT figure los Lobos didn't jet Rambis into town simply to show him around Mall of America. If his potential departure made your "Worry List," probably time to start chomping on the ol' finger nails.
Should this deal go down, I think the Wolves landed themselves a good and sensible hire. Rambis did, in my opinion, a solid closing out a chaotic '99 season after Del Harris was fired, acquitting himself about as well as could be expected from a rookie coach inheriting a talented but dysfunctional crew. From there, he's gone on to become respected and well-regarded (from everything I've ever read or understood) around the league as an important member of the Laker staff.
Yes, Rambis would be taking over a lousy team, but they're a lousy team with two good pieces (Al Jefferson, Kevin Love), a few youngsters with potential (Jonny Flynn, a healthy Corey Brewer, Ricky Rubio?) and high draft picks certain to come. And since there's no pressure to win right away, the powers that be can afford to take a patient look at Rambis.
Plus, Rambis might get to sign off on a Quentin Richardson trade, which is apparently a lot of fun, since everyone's doing it this offseason!!!
In the meantime, the Lakers will have an easier time, should they choose to do so, transitioning Brian Shaw as the next head coach not named "Phil" or "Jackson." It's a role I've long felt Shaw was being groomed for- I actually thought Shaw would be the guy taking over for Frank Hamblen before PJ shocked the world with his return- and like Rambis in Minnesota, I think the former three-peat member would be a great call. He's young enough to remember what it's like being a player, but far enough removed from active duty to reek of "coach." He communicates well and has a very good way with people. Plus, he's got the everlasting respect of Kobe Bryant, and I'll go out on a limb and predict the brain trusts want a dude with 24's stamp of approval. Obviously, if Jackson stays on longer than expected, the front runner to succeed him may change with that development. But for now, like BK mentioned last week, I think Shaw could be in ownership of the proverbial "cat bird seat."
Also, as an unrelated FYI. The Press-Enterprise's Jeffrey Eisenberg reported earlier today that Sasha Vujacic suffered a left knee injury while working with the Slovenian National Team. It didn't sound too serious at the time, and the latest update has The Machine practicing with the team again. Hopefully, we're back to biz as usual.
Photo: Kurt Rambis. Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America