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Report: Kurt Rambis done in Minnesota after season, team denies

Mar 14, 2011, 9:53 AM EDT


UPDATE March 14, 9:53 am: As should be expected and is basically standard operating procedure in these cases, Minnesota officials denied everything about the report, according to the Pioneer Press. GM David Kahn particularly smacked down the idea that Kelvin Sampson was a planned replacement.

Kurt Rambis was much more direct.

“I don’t comment on things I haven’t read, and I never comment on things that cowards say,” Rambis said before heading to the team’s charter flight to Oakland. “If somebody wants to say something and attach their name to it, that’s another matter. Rumors are out there all the time. Anybody can start a rumor, but if they don’t attach their name to it, they’re a coward.”

March 12, 1:01 pm: Minnesota already has 50 losses this season and will likely finish with 60 or more when all is said and done. Which is a little better than the 67 lost last season but let’s not pretend we’re in the ballpark of reasonable.

It means that coach Kurt Rambis will likely be let go at the end of the season, according to Ken Berger at The decision will come at the end of the season but some within the organization are pushing hard for a change.

With a young roster clearly lacking in veteran leadership, some members of the Minnesota brain trust believe the team needs a more vocal, energetic coach on the sideline. Rambis is cut from the Phil Jackson cloth of letting his players police themselves, and also has been at odds with (Kevin) Love for long stretches. A coaching change is something Love would not oppose, sources say.

From almost day one there has seemed to be no cohesion between management’s vision and Rambis’ vision. They hire him to run the triangle offense in Minnesota, then use their two lottery draft picks that summer to bring in two ball-dominating point guards — the one thing the triangle offense does not require. Minnesota was in a place where they needed to gamble on young talent to fill out a roster, regardless of position, but again that is a bad fit for how you want to build a triangle-based team.

Rambis was slow to recognize what he had in Love — benching him for stretches at the start of this season even though he was their best player — and he seemed unable to get guys to really buy into the system fully.

Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson is the frontrunner to get the job next season, Berger says. He may be a better fit, but unless he gets more talent to expect many more wins would be a mistake. The talent question hinges on Ricky Rubio, the Spanish point guard. Minnesota staff are insistent he will play in the NBA next season, but the threat of a lockout makes it seem more likely he would spend one more season in Europe before coming over (he has to announce his intentions on his Euro deal this spring, long before a deal will be struck between the owners and players).

Rambis’ name may come up when Phil Jackson walks away from the Lakers at the end of this season. Lakers assistant Brian Shaw remains the front-runner for that job, however.

  1. dmo84 - Mar 12, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Finally! This team needs a Jerry Sloan/Larry Brown type of coach. I’ve seen better discipline in pickup games compared to this squad. For the most part the team has been competitive, but they fall apart in the fourth quarter with silly(and I mean silly) mistakes. I think that has been the most frustrating part as a Wolves fan. The talent is there, but the leadership and discipline(plus killer instinct) is lacking.

  2. tubal22 - Mar 12, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Jerry Sloan/Larry Brown are no longer stupid enough to coach in a diva league.

    • purdueman - Mar 12, 2011 at 2:37 PM

      What many of us overlook is that throwback experienced coaches like Sloan, (Phil) Jackson, Brown and Riley are all pushing or over 70 years old. When I hit 50, even though I racked up millions of frequent flyer miles, I was done with heavy travel and wanted off the road. I can’t imagine living on the road at 65-70 years of age having to wet nurse mostly a bunch of boys from da hood; no thanks!

      Rambis won’t get the Laker job next year; he had his shot and blew it. Shaw may seem to be the early favorite to replace Jackson, but my moneys on Byron Scott. I can’t imagine that Scott would have been so stupid to sign his current deal with Cleveland without having an out clause should the Laker job come open.

      The Lakers are a heavily over 30 veteran team now; even though of course Shaw knows the personnel, a rookie coach just doesn’t seem to make sense to me next season.

  3. purdueman - Mar 12, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Kevin Sampson? Are you kidding me? This guys history reads like a bad rap sheet. I just laugh when young coaches think that they can make a name for themselves by implementing the vaulted triangle offense. Dummy Tim Floyd was the first, Bill Cartwright the second and now Rambis completes “The Three Stooges”. What makes the triangle work? A veteran dominant shooting guard and a veteran high post, soft handed center and/or power forward. Jackson with the Bulls had that in Jordan and Longley; Jackson has it in LA with Kobe and Gasol.

    Because of the new “one and done” in collegiate basketball these days, kids come into the NBA basically knowing only how to play “street or playground” basketball… and you think that you can actually teach these kids the intricacies of the triangle offense? LOL!

    • mytthor - Mar 12, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      I do agree with a lot of this, but on the list of things that made Chicago’s version of the triangle “work,” Luc Longley is about #6. The most important thing for the triangle is the shooting guard you refer to, specifically that he be good from midrange and preferable be able to post up as well as operate from the perimeter (both of which Kobe and Michael evolved into). With Shaq, the triangle was basically a way to make teams pay for double teaming him.

      • purdueman - Mar 12, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        The Bulls second “three peat” featured the “three headed monster” at the center position, and having a center who could play the high post and be the traffic cop distributing the ball to the open shooter was extremely important to the triangle offense.

        When Longley was acquired by the Bulls in trade, his nickname throughout the league was: “Luc Shortly”, because once he entered a game he shortly sat back down with foul trouble. That was because he was playing the low post and was too slow to handle many of the leagues centers. Was he a great center? Certainly not; in fact were it not for his ability to distribute in the high post he would have gone down in NBA history as the guy who replaced inept Will Perdue (from the first “three peat”).

        During the second run of the Bulls though, the three headed monster of Longley, Wennington and first John Saley and then the Chief was particularly effective because none of them had to worry about rebounding because by that point in time Rodman was in town.

        Bottom line? The triangle offense is just WAY over the top for young teams like the T-Wolves, many of whom have a tough enough time (like Michael Beasley), adjusting to the NBA where they suddenly aren’t the only guy on the floor who can do much (as most of them were in college).

  4. chitownjeff - Mar 12, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Minnesota will be nowhere until that joke of a GM is fired. This idiot Kahn thinks Rubio is 1) the second coming.. 2) coming to play for this team and org?? 3) Goes out and picks Ty lawson Johnny Flynn??

    Look Minnesota has a heckuva fan base.. when Flip and Kevin built it up they were packing the house and contending. They couldn’t get enough around Garnett but they were a lot better off. The solution is to fire Kahn.. and Rambis.. bring in Eric Mussleman..

    • whatagreatfootballmind - Mar 12, 2011 at 11:19 PM

      Kahn actually hasn’t been that bad of the GM. Look at the roster compared to what it was when he took over. Everybody rips Kahn for picking Rubio. Does anybody remember who orginally had the 5th overall pick in that draft where Rubio was taken? The Washington Wizards. Kahn gave up Mike Miller and Randy Foye for Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, Oleksiy Pecherov and the fifth overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft, which turned into Rubio. I sure remember those great Wizards teams lead by Miller and Foye, both who don’t even play for them anymore.

      Yes, Kahn picked Ty Lawson, but then traded him to Denver on draft night for a future 1st round pick. I don’t hear anybody talking about how Kahn “gave Al Jefferson away” to Utah for their 1st round pick. How has Utah been doing since the All-Star break? Oh yeah the same team Kahn’s team beat last night by 20. Nobody talks about Kahn sending only a 2nd round pick to Miami for Michael Beasley.

      If anything, it the coach that needs to go. For the Wolves to say all last year, that last year doesn’t count and this was year one for Rambis was obsured, espically if Kahn lets Rambis go now. I have seen improvement this year. This summer is a big summer for Kahn. We will have (all likely hood) a top 3 pick, and a ton of cap space to either sign a free agent to a max deal or trade for a nice player. Besides that top 3 pick, we also have Utah’s pick, which is looking nicer by the week, and also has Charlotte’s 1st round pick too to play with.

  5. ezwriter69 - Mar 12, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    Kelvin Sampson? This is a joke, right? Kelvin Sampson? Even Kahn isn’t that stupid is he? Okay, he is… but Kelvin Sampson? They really DO want out of Minnesota if that’s their hire. That said, Rambis’s dissing of Love from day one was suicidal, he was still lobbying to trade Love well into December, there has to be someone out there with more of a clue than Rambis. Don’t let the door hit you in the bumper on the way out…

  6. rajbais - Mar 13, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    So what will happen to the genius also known as general manager David Kahn???

    This is 1 of the 4 teams that I want contracted!!! It’s uncompetitive like the Bucks and Clippers and in a low market team like the Bucks.

    NBA Owners, next time you need a future GM get one from a team that’s better than the Pacers like how the Sonics/Thunder got Sam Presti from the Spurs. Kahn had no proof of success, but caused Minnesota fans to yearn for the days of Kevin McHale!

  7. whatagreatfootballmind - Mar 13, 2011 at 3:49 AM

    Minnesota is not small market. Minnesota is a bigger market than:
    San Antonio
    Oklahoma City
    New Orleans

    Put a decent team on the court and the fans will come back. Like when we had KG, Sprewell, Szczerbiak, and Cassell. If McHale doesn’t screw the team over, we aren’t as bad of a team. We still owe the Clippers a first round pick that McHale traded 5 years ago!

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Mar 17, 2011 at 6:42 PM

      Stern ruined the franchise by 10 years when he stripped the team of those
      draft pick’s in the Joe Smith fiasco.I used to like KG so much for sticking
      with them, he turned in to a DOUCHE in Boston.

  8. helinhater - Mar 13, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Minnesota is a small market.

    Just because it’s larger than other markets doesn’t make it a large market.

    Similarly, if your business is bigger than a midget’s, it doesn’t mean you’re hung.

    • purdueman - Mar 13, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      Hey there fella… watch what you say. I read recently that not only do the Minnesota based teams have BOTH North AND South Dakota all locked up, but their teams are also a particularly big hit in Fargo too!

    • jstrizzle - Mar 14, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      They are a mid-market team. Stop seeing so black and white.

      Conversely, if your business is smaller than that 4 or 5 people, it doesn’t mean your tiny.

      • purdueman - Mar 14, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        Of course Minneapolis is a mid-market team; they have exclusive territorial rights on Fargo (you betcha!), Bismark and half of Des Moines!

  9. atribecalledtwolves - Mar 14, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    Not sure how I feel about this. Rambis hasn’t done much in 2 years but he has had very little to work with. I think Kahn and the “brain trust” should talk to the players who have a future with the Wolves (Love, Wes, Beasley, and hell even Ridnour) what they think.

    • purdueman - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:26 AM

      Agreed; Rambis has exercised tremendous patience with a revolving door roster, but if it’s true that he keeps trying to force the triangle offense, he’s barking up the wrong tree and needs to go. The last thing that a struggling young team needs coming off of way to little college experience is to have the complexity of the triangle offense thrown upon them. Dummy Tim Floyd tried to do the same thing after Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan left the Bulls and the results speak for themselves… i.e., one step forward, three or four steps back for the franchise, no matter how good the intentions or passion behind doing so.

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