And so today, with Kurt Rambis put out on the trash pile with all those other failed coaches in the team's history and J.B. Bickerstaff headed to Houston instead of grooming school, the Timberwolves move on in search of yet another coach.
David Kahn promises that search will begin shortly -- if not this week, then surely next -- even though he's been researching and compiling a list, if perhaps only in his mind, for weeks.
“You should assume this will be a pretty wide search,” he said. “Not voluminous, but a wide search.”
OK, so with wide but not voluminous in mind, here’s a look at some possibilities.
This is not with any knowledge of exactly what Kahn’s list is yet, mind you. Actually, I’ve had to rack by brain just to come up with a handful who might be willing now that even J.B. Bickerstaff has jumped for a Houston Rockets assistant’s job next to Kevin McHale, even though Kahn said he’d already received inquiries from seven or eight interested coaches in just the few hours yesterday after the team officially announced Rambis’ firing.
Kahn wants the next coach to have fast-break basketball in his “DNA.” Someone asked him if he’s looking for a disciplinarian.
“I think the word 'disciplinarian’ is sort of a buzzword,” he said. “So I wouldn’t say that. But I will say we all recognize we need to find somebody who really can get the guys to play really hard, as simplistic as that may sound. Playing hard in this league, especially at home, goes a long way. What we need to do is find a coach who has a knack and a track record of really getting his teams to, for lack of a better term, get after it.”
So who could that be?
Kahn swore money was not the reason the Rambis saga lasted so long and promised Glen Taylor is willing to spend to get the coach they want. It’d probably take $4-5 million a year and some convincing to get him at age 65 to tackle such a job and situation.
But, hey, why not aim high?
He’d provide instant credibility. His teams play the pretty ball-movement style that Kahn prefers, even if his teams don’t exactly play at breakneck speed. And the guy has proven at Portland, Sacramento and Houston that he wins.
There’s a connection there with Kevin Love that dates to Love and Adelman’s son playing on the same Lake Oswego, Ore., High School team. Adelman saw just about every game Love played his senior season there while he was in between NBA jobs.
Love made comments in California yesterday that he wants to have “a great relationship” with whoever coaches him with the Wolves, or whoever coaches him throughout his career. He didn’t have that with Rambis, although I’m not sure it was as strained as it was made out to be by some.
Pairing him with Adelman, a guy he knows well and admires, would be one big step toward getting him to sign a contract extension this fall, or whenever the lockout ends.
There’s also a connection with Kahn, who’s from Portland and was doing the newspaper thing with the Oregonian 20-some years ago, just about the time the Blazers gave Adelman his first NBA head-coaching job.
I’d heard a couple weeks ago in a couple different places that the Wolves had inquired – through what channels, not sure – about Adelman’s potential interest in the job and weren’t immediately told no, so…
It didn’t take long for his name to surface yesterday, did it? He must be getting bored in retirement at his Hawaii beach house.
ESPN reported Nelson is intrigued by Love, Ricky Rubio and a Wolves’ roster that also includes Anthony Tolliver, who was a Nellie favorite during his one year there in Golden State.
I’m sure Anthony Randolph – not a Nellie favorite -- was thrilled by the report.
If you want to play fast, this guy knows fast, so much so that they’ve name a certain kind of style after him (Nellie Ball). Of course, the NBA’s all-time winningest coach would come, at age 71, with his own baggage after the way his time with Golden State ended a year ago.
Count Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver among the believers, though.
“He’s a great coach and he def(initely) would be able to use all of the firepower we have,” Tolliver texted yesterday. “He def(initely) has my endorsement!”
Judging by the first time he did this, Kahn also likes “name” appeal. Rambis was that when he hired him. So, too, were assistants Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus, who each have a year left on their contracts (so does Dave Wohl) and probably will be given a courtesy interview with the new coach before being reassigned to other duties for that final year.
He might be interested, but are the Wolves?
Here’s a name you probably don’t know, even though he’s one of “us.”
Raised in Staples, educated at Moorhead State, Joerger won a combined five minor-league titles in seven years in the D League, the CBA and the IBA and has been a Memphis assistant the last four seasons. Last season, he was in charge of the Grizzlies’ much-improved defense and recently was a candidate to become Kevin McHale’s top assistant in Houston, a job Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson just got.
I’m not sure exactly what style is in his DNA, but if Kahn wants an up-and-comer who can motivate and relate to these young players, Joerger’s a guy he at least should look at. He has proven in the minor leagues that he knows a thing or two about player development, one of Kahn's mantras.
And remember, Kahn has roots in the D League.
Other possibilities he could consider with D League connections include New Orleans assistant Bryan Gates, who worked for Kahn at one D League stop or, less likely, a couple of guys with Wolves connections: Eric Musselman or Scott Roth, an original Timberwolves player and longtime NBA assistant now with Toronto.
The fan favorite
Yes, the former Wolves player has ties to the organization and owner Glen Taylor. But I've gotten no indication that he's anywhere high on Kahn's list and I'm not sure that Mitchell is convinced this is the right second-chance for him anyway. This next head coaching job, whenever it comes, might be his last chance, so he knows he has to choose wisely.
Here’s a couple names from Kahn’s past:
Larry Brown/ Their days go back to UCLA in the late 1970s, when Brown was coach and Kahn was student-newspaper reporter and Kahn considers Brown one of his mentors. But with such a young team and with Larry getting, well, more Larry every year as he gets older, I doubt if even Kahn will hire him anymore.
Mike Fratello/ They have a broadcasting connection from their days together at NBC in the 1990s when Fratello did color commentary and Kahn worked behind the scenes with Fratello and Pat Riley on broadcasts.
The only guy that Kahn, as of yesterday, had asked permission to talk with, but that was before J.B. bailed for Houston after Kahn considered grooming J.B. as head coach under his dad for a season or two.
Kahn was asked yesterday if he considered J.B. a head-coaching candidate.
“Probably not,” he said, “and I told him that over the last several weeks.”
The unlikely path
University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has been repeated many times since Yahoo! Sports reported last month that Kahn had been compiling information about him. Romar made it clear he has little interest in leaving his alma mater for the Wolves job and Kahn Tuesday said, “The track record for college coaches is a little sketchy” when asked if he’d hire a college coach.
My two cents
With everything being built around Ricky Rubio, I'd look around for a worthy former point guard who can help him learn the NBA game.
How 'bout Oklahoma City assistant Mo Cheeks?