Wolves coaching choice could be near
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- August 15, 2011 - 11:20 PM
This very well could be the week the Timberwolves choose their next coach.
So far, I haven’t gotten any indication there will be a second round of interviews, as David Kahn did the last time around with Kurt Rambis, Mark Jackson and Elston Turner.
And I’m hearing at least some of the 6 ½ candidates are expecting an answer this week.
That last time around looking for a coach, Kahn traveled around the country interviewing close to a dozen candidates before narrowing it down to those final three. This time, candidates came to Minnesota, where the process involved a full day spent with Kahn, owner Glen Taylor and CEO Rob Moor as well as minority partners and other franchise personnel at times.
I doubt they’ll bring finalists back to town a second time for more chat or send Taylor out to see them.
The question is: How long will it take to make up their minds?
And…who’s it going to be?
Just one man’s take here:
If it’s Sam Mitchell, Taylor shaped the decision, opting for a candidate with whom he's most personally comfortable.
If Kahn still has the loudest voice in the room, I’m betting it’s going to be Don Nelson or Bernie Bickerstaff.
Two years ago, Kahn hired Kurt Rambis, an owner of eight NBA championship rings as a player, assistant coach and front-office employee but who was unproven as a head coach.
And we all know how that turned out.
This time, look for him to want a guy who has truly proven himself to coach such a young team.
With Kahn’s job on the line, that means Mike Woodson or Terry Porter or Mitchell – guys who all have had five seasons or less on the big job -- probably don’t qualify.
That means if Kahn’s doing the picking, it’d be a guy who in any other line of work would be drawing retirement checks already.
But in NBA coaching, age 70 is the new 50, isn’t it?
In this search, 3 ½ of those 6 ½ candidates – Rick Adelman is the half because he didn’t formally interview but rather talked at some length with Kahn by phone about the job – are 65 and over.
Adelman would be the favorite, but appears sincere about not wanting to coach next season. (Still, never say never until the Wolves actually hire somebody else.)
Nelson and Larry Brown – who each will be 71 when the next NBA season begins, provided it isn’t a year from now – both want the job.
Bickerstaff, 67, will take it if the Wolves with the right offer properly further fund his retirement when those years finally come.
Take away Adelman presumably and Nelson is the only guy who really fits what Kahn said he wants in the next coach on the day he announced Rambis’ firing last month.
Nellie’s a proven winner: How do you get any more than the NBA’s all-time leader in coaching victories (1,335).
Belief in fast-break basketball oozes from his marrow.
It sure can’t hurt, either, that he has a daughter and grandchildren living in Minnetonka and despite all those homes he owns on Maui, he promises he’ll establish a home here and become part of the community, something Rambis never completely did.
But he also comes with risks – see the way his last coaching stint in Golden State ended and his relationship with Anthony Randolph while with the Warriors – and that makes a guy like Bickerstaff the safer play among the “proven” group.
Brown is the riskiest choice because his shelf life grows shorter and shorter with each passing job and once on that job probably would want to trade away half the roster that Kahn has built. And there are more than a few folks around the league who think pairing Ricky Rubio with Brown's demanding style could be a disaster.
Mitchell is the big `X’ factor.
He emerged as a candidate relatively late in the process and as far as I can tell, was nowhere on Kahn's original list of candidates.
That tells me Taylor pushed to have him included because of their relationship that dates to Mitchell’s playing days with the team.
After seasons of 15 and 17 victories and after Rambis lasted just two seasons as coach, how much faith does Taylor still have in Kahn to make this next big decision?
If there are greatly differing opinions on who should be the next head coach, could a guy like Woodson be the compromise candidate?
We’ll see on that, too.
And just when will we know?
Well, let’s see…It has only been four months since the Wolves’ season ended and only more than a month that Rambis officially was fired after a three-month cooling off period.
But, believe it or not, perhaps soon, with a decision -- if not a formal announcement -- possible by week's end.
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