Before he was Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis, he was Kyriakos Rambidis, power forward on 1980 Greek Cup champion AEK Athens. So when the Wolves’ coach tours Europe these days, it’s difficult for him to remain incognito.
Several European newspapers have spotted Rambis in basketball arenas in Madrid and Malaga, Spain; Athens, Greece; and Kragujevac, Serbia, providing a stop-by-stop update on his scouting trip with president of basketball operations David Kahn.
According to Spanish paper Noticias de Alava, for instance, Rambis attended a Spanish League semifinal game in Madrid, and “paid special attention” to Croatian center Ante Tomic, drafted two years ago by Utah. The next night, he was in Malaga, watching last year's No. 5 draftee, point guard Ricky Rubio, score four points and hand out two assists in Barcelona’s 71-58 victory in the other semifinal series.
The Greeks spotted Rambis on Sunday, with Athens paper Kathimerini reporting that the coach scouted center Nikola Pekovic, the Serbian center drafted by the Wolves in 2008. Pekovic, a 6-foot-11 24-year-old who has told the Wolves he wants to play in the NBA next season, scored 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting but had only one rebound in Panathinaikos’ loss in the Greek championship series. Their opponent in the Finals, Olympiakos, features NBA veteran forwards Linus Kleiza and Josh Childress.
By Wednesday, Rambis and Kahn had moved on to Serbia to visit center Darko Milicic, whom the Wolves hope to re-sign this summer. While there, according to thehoopsmarket.com, Serbian newspaper Sportske noted that Ramis attended a Serbian League game to scout Nemanja Bjelicka, a 6-10 forward expected to be taken in the second round of next month’s draft.
Rambis and Kahn are expected back in Minnesota by the end of the week to resume preparations for the June 24 draft. The Wolves own the fourth, 16th and 23rd picks in the first round, plus two second-round selections.