Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

Rambis on job status: 'Don't know'

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • June 6, 2011 - 1:03 AM

Back at work evaluating a free-agent workout at Target Center, Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis on Friday spoke publicly for the first time since season's end about his uncertain professional future.

Seven weeks after his team played its final game, Rambis doesn't know whether he will be back next season as coach. But he was back scouting players as if he will be.

He was asked Friday if he feels his situation is being handled appropriately.

"It's not how I would handle it, no," Rambis told reporters in a six-minute exchange in which he appeared annoyed but not angry about the uncertainty. "I think everybody has reasons for why they conduct their business in the way they want to conduct their business. If you're asking me if that's what I'd do, no. That's not how I would handle things, but everybody's different."

Rambis' boss, David Kahn, has declined to answer questions in recent weeks about the coach's future, saying it was not the proper time to make such decisions. He did not return a text message seeking comment Friday, and a team spokesman said he was unavailable.

Rambis did not attend last month's NBA draft combine in Chicago, where almost all prospects are measured, interviewed and all but the top players participate in drills but not 5-on-5 play.

He did attend draft workouts that brought 27 teams to Target Center last week and was in town Thursday and Friday for the free-agent workouts that included former Gophers center John Thomas as well as former NBA players Quincy Douby, Steven Hunter and J.R. Giddens.

Rambis said he didn't go to Chicago because he couldn't evaluate players competing against each other like the Minneapolis workouts allowed.

"The way I see it, I'm doing my job," he said. "I'm still the coach of this team until something happens, so I've got to be watching for talent, doing whatever I can to help this team get better. ... It's out of my control. There's nothing I can do about it. I just have to proceed as I am and do my job.

"These are workouts I feel like I should be at."

Whether he is fired or not, Rambis will get paid about $4 million for the remaining two seasons on a four-year contract he signed in August 2009 after he won eight NBA titles as a player, assistant coach or executive with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was asked if he thinks his uncertain situation is related to a possible lockout next month.

"Don't know," he said.

By firing one coach now and hiring another, Wolves owner Glen Taylor could pay two coaches for a season that might never be played. If Rambis' contract calls for him to be paid a reduced salary during a lockout, it would be cheaper to pay him to stay as coach rather than fire him and pay him off now.

Rambis also was asked if he expected to be involved in preparations for the June 23 draft.

"Don't know," he said.

He said he and Kahn have had "minimal conversations" since the season ended April 13. He said he expects they will have an in-depth conversation sometime, but nothing is scheduled. Rambis was headed home to Los Angeles on Friday, while Kahn leaves next week on a scouting trip to Europe.

Asked if he's upset or offended by the situation, Rambis said: "I don't know what to say. I have to conduct my life in the way I conduct my life, and I'm responsible for my emotions. I just handle things that way."

That means going to work until he's told not to do so.

"In my mind's eye, nothing has changed," he said. "I'm still doing the same things now that I was doing last summer in getting ready for camp and the season and looking at players and what we can do to get better."

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