Speculation on Rambis revs up

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 13, 2011 - 1:36 AM

As a losing season nears its end, reports about a coaching change emerge.

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Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

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Perhaps it is inevitable that -- as a season full of losses winds its way toward the finish line -- reports of Wolves coach Kurt Rambis' job security would begin to pop up.

And it has begun. A story posted Friday on CBSsports.com stated there was a move from within the organization to make a coaching change after this season ends. The report went on to say that, while a final decision won't be made until the final regular season game, Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson was a potential replacement. Noting that Rambis "has been at odds with'' Kevin Love for "long stretches,'' the report also said Love wouldn't oppose a coaching change.

Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn, through a team spokesman, said Saturday that there was nothing to the report.

Love, meanwhile, went to some lengths to dispel the notion that he and Rambis don't get along.

"It's all because of what transpired last year," said Love of the 2009-10 season, when Rambis limited Love's minutes and often had him coming off the bench. "But Kurt and I have been great this year. There are always going to be some arguments, things where you aren't necessarily going to be on the same page. But, at the end of the day, Kurt and I have tremendous respect for each other."

The perception that Love and Rambis don't get along is one that has persisted, at least nationally. Love said summer workouts with Rambis last year helped him take steps in his game.

"I worked with him the whole summer and built a great relationship with him," Love said. "No, [any report of friction between the two] is completely false. ... Last year we had our differences. This year there has been nothing like that. For me to say he's not good here would be blasphemy, because this is really only his first season as coach [where] he finally got the players around him that he wanted. I can't be mad. I'm shining under his system. Why would I have a problem with him?"

Rambis, meanwhile, said he hadn't seen the report and wasn't about to comment on his job status in any case. But Rambis, too, pointed to the work the two did over the summer as proof of a strong bond.

"I think he's seen the benefit [of that work] this year," Rambis said. "He's having a great year. His development and his understanding of the game continually gets better. We have a good relationship."

The report suggested that Wolves management might want a coach who is more "vocal and energetic" for a team lacking veteran leadership.

"I love Kurt," forward Michael Beasley said. "I mean, Kurt, for us, is a great coach. Everybody knew this season was going to be a learning experience. I don't think you can hold [the losing] against him. I have no problem with Kurt. I don't want to change coaches."

Added Love: "He is a players' coach. Guys like playing for him."

Building momentum

The Wolves are coming off consecutive home victories over Indiana and Utah, two teams that admittedly are struggling. Still, the margin of victory -- 26 vs. the Pacers and 21 over Utah -- are two of the three most one-sided victories by the Wolves this season. Indeed, it marks the first time in a decade the Wolves have had consecutive 20-point victories. It happened last in December of 2001.

Is the team now building enough momentum to finish the season on a strong note? Or is the recent two-game winning streak -- just the fourth for the Wolves this season -- just a result of playing poor competition?

"It's a little bit of both," Love said. "But we feel we're playing good basketball, regardless of the teams we're playing. Those are the kinds of teams you have to beat to start putting things together."

Said Beasley: "I feel like we've put ourselves in a position to finish strong. We haven't won a lot, we won't be going to the playoffs. But we are in a position to finish on a high note, with some momentum going into next year."

Etc.

• Beasley sat out of practice Saturday with a stiff neck, but he should play Sunday.

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