August 16, 2011
In a lockout, the employees of NBA franchises are typically thought to be sitting around twiddling their thumbs. While that's not entirely true -- teams are still trying to sell tickets, even if their sales pitches aren't as strong as usual -- there's only so much that coaches and trainers can do when they're not allowed contact with players. It's easy to imagine Gregg Popovich reading some new histories of the fall of the USSR or Scott Skiles staring at his sock drawer, unable to rearrange it without the stabilizing presence of basketball in his life.
The Wolves are a little different than most teams, though, because they haven't yet hired a coach after officially firing Kurt Rambis in mid-July. Six candidates, including Don Nelson and Sam Mitchell, are still in the running. According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, a few of the candidates might learn about their fate this week:
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.
Zgoda isn't sure exactly how or when the search will end, but his gut tells him that hiring Mitchell will indicate that owner Glen Taylor had more of an effect on the decision, whereas Nelson or Bernie Bickerstaff would point towards general manager David Kahn leading the process. At any rate, it's nice to know that the Wolves may finally hire a coach to lead a young and promising team into the future. Most teams don't find themselves without a leader in mid-August for good reason.
Except, well, this summer isn't normal. Teams snatch up coaches soon after interviewing them for many reasons, but one is that they need to take advantage of limited offseason time to build a plan for the future and get things in order before regular season games begin. In a lockout, those concerns are significantly less important. It actually makes perfect sense for the Wolves to take their time with this hire. Why wouldn't they do everything possible to make sure they've hired the right person for the job?
The specifics of due diligence are largely dependent on context. As soon as the Wolves decided not to can Rambis until after the draft, they created a new timeline for their coaching search. In this case, a process more than twice as long as any other team's this summer is not a bad thing. It's just a case of a franchise using the time they've been given wisely.
Or, who knows, maybe they're just lazy. Prove me wrong, Kahn!