Rambis, Kahn never seem on same page

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 23, 2011 - 1:45 AM

If the coach truly is fired, it's because he didn't deliver what the boss promised.


Kurt Rambis had high hopes for the Timberwolves when he was hired two summers ago. Now it appears his run might be over, even with the team holding the second pick in Thursday’s draft.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor hired David Kahn as his president for basketball operations on May 22, 2009. Presumably, Kahn never got around to mentioning his addiction to asinine melodrama during the interview process.

Kahn's first such dance involved discussions with Kevin McHale on the possibility of him staying with the organization as the head coach. There was a never a chance that Kahn was going to keep around his predecessor in any capacity, yet he kept making preposterous remarks about a process that would treat McHale with respect.

For some reason, Kahn offering that hogwash with his perfect enunciation made it even more irritating.

Whenever Kahn offered an update on the coaching situation, you wanted to stand and shout, "Fire him already, and get a coach in here."

It took until June 17 -- and for Kevin Love to first offer the news on Twitter -- for what everyone knew to become official: that McHale would not be the coach.

And it took another 54 days, until Aug. 10, for Kahn to announce that his first Wolves coach would be Kurt Rambis. Despite the flowery Kahn verbiage of the time, there's no doubt Rambis was hired for his name and his connections to the champion L.A. Lakers rather than for sharing similar basketball ideas as his boss.

Kahn came to town saying the Wolves would play up-and-down basketball. There was even a motto adopted early: "United We Run."

We had to assume that some time in process of hiring him, Kahn mentioned this to Rambis. Twenty-two months later, there's no evidence that was the case.

Kahn had used two prime selections, Nos. 5 and 6, to select Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn in his first draft. They were both advertised as push-the-pace point guards. They were both deemed to fit the theme: United We Run.

And then Rambis arrived, to good reviews. He was around when Magic Johnson was running "Showtime'' in L.A., so even if Rambis wasn't a big part of those fast breaks, he knew how to go about it. And he also had been an assistant to Phil Jackson during the Lakers' latest championship run.

As it turned out, Rambis was more an advocate of what he saw sitting next to Jackson than being Magic's teammate. He tried to get this bunch of young guys and rejects to learn a version of the "Triangle Offense,'' which is mighty fine attack when you have Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, but has a tendency to bog down when Flynn is looking at teammates and asking, "What now?"

Yet, it was overstated as to how much of the triangle the Wolves actually ran, and it was de-emphasized as the team staggered through a second consecutive winter with Rambis, but what spending any triangle time at all said to observers was:

Rambis and Kahn are on different planets as to how they see the game and this team.

And even if Kahn had the giant brain in vocabulary and Rambis had the big brain in basketball, Kahn was smart enough to know bad defense, and Rambis' teams specialized in that for two seasons.

Kahn decided to hold his season wrapup with the media early on April 13, the day of the final game. In that 40-minute concert of verbiage, he did all but announce Rambis' firing.

"This is a very different team than we had a year ago, but this is two years in a row for whatever reason the team didn't improve as the season went on ... '' Kahn said.

"I think you can make a fair argument ... that a young team should show even more improvement as the season winds down as opposed to an older team.''

He then added: "I don't have anything to say about our coaching situation, and frankly anything of that matter in terms of the future."

Wrong, David. You just said you were going to fire the coach. And it only took until Wednesday for a report to surface (presumably on info from the Rambis camp) that the coach had been told he won't be back.

Very good, Mr. Kahn.

Why announce a decision that you've already made in 10 sentences and five minutes, when you can speak hundreds of sentences of eloquent hogwash and take 10 weeks for the inevitable to become reality?

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. • preusse@startribune.com

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