Rambis waiting to hear his fate
By Jon Krawczynski, AP Sports Writer
By Jon Krawczynski, AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Seven weeks after the Minnesota Timberwolves season ended, Kurt Rambis has not been told whether he will be back for a third year as head coach.
So he finally decided to say something about it.
Rambis said Friday that he still sees himself as the coach of the Timberwolves until he is told otherwise, but admitted to being irked by the lack of communication with team President David Kahn.
"Everybody has reasons for why they conduct the business in the way they want to" Rambis said in his first public remarks about the situation. "If you're asking me if that's what I would do, no, that's not how I would handle things. But everybody's different."
Kahn was traveling and not immediately available for comment. Assistant GM Tony Ronzone said he could not comment.
Rambis has two years left on the contract he signed in 2009. He has won just 32 games in his first two seasons as coach in Minnesota, a period of upheaval in the roster that left him with the youngest team in the league this season.
Rambis was in town watching a group of veteran free agents work out in front of Ronzone and a few assistant coaches. The coach's decision to address the media came as a surprise, and Rambis said he has had only "minor conversations" with Kahn in the weeks that have passed since Kahn refused to give him a vote of confidence in the season-ending meeting with the media.
Rambis has shown up in the Twin Cities twice in the last month, once to watch a workout of draft prospects and this week to look at several fringe free agents and Brazilian big man Paulao Prestes, whom the Wolves drafted in the second round last year.
The appearances have been a bit awkward, with the coach-in-limbo going about his business despite the very real possibility that he will not be back next season.
"The way I see it, I'm doing my job," Rambis said. "I'm still the coach of this team until something happens otherwise. So I've got to be watching for talent."
Kahn spent his first two seasons remaking the roster, turning the Wolves into a young, athletic and inexperienced team. The additions of Michael Beasley, Anthony Tolliver, Luke Ridnour and others made them a better shooting, deeper team.
But the lack of veteran leadership, and some players' struggles with getting comfortable with the offensive and defensive systems Rambis employs, led to just two more victories than the previous season, a 17-65 mark that was the worst in the league.
Tolliver said that the coach's uncertain status isn't really affecting the players, unless the situation drags on until the start of training camp.
"It would be great for him (to get an answer), but for us at this point right now it doesn't really make too much of a difference," Tolliver said. "I've supported Kurt and think he's a good coach. He has some things he needs to work on just like we do as players. Nobody's perfect.
"Hopefully we bring him back," Tolliver added. "But if they don't, I have to respect that decision and move forward. It's a business."
When he left his job as Phil Jackson's top assistant with the Lakers, Rambis requested a four-year contract to ensure that he would have the job security to see through the massive rebuilding project that Khan planned to implement.
But the Wolves lost 15 straight games to end his second season, a miserable finish that put the coach's job in jeopardy.
"It's out of my control," Rambis said. "It's what I said at the end of the season. There's nothing I can do about it. I just have to proceed like I am and do my job."
Kahn has said he was disappointed in the lack of progress shown in the record, but he didn't want to make an emotional decision at the end of a trying year.
The Wolves have the No. 2 overall pick in the June 23 draft, but Rambis still doesn't know if he'll be involved in the decision-making process.
The Wolves also were notified this week that 2009 top draft choice Ricky Rubio plans to come over from Spain next season. The Wolves have not announced Rubio's signing officially while they wait for the 20-year-old point guard to finish playing for Regal Barcelona.
While waiting to hear from Kahn, Rambis did some TV work for ESPN and a local station in Los Angeles during the NBA playoffs and has been spending a lot of time with his family.
He said he didn't have any talks scheduled with Kahn and had no idea when he'd get an answer about his future with the team.
When asked if that angered him, the always composed Rambis shrugged and said, "I don't know what to say other than I have to conduct my life in the way that I conduct my life. I'm responsible for my emotions and I just handle things that way."