Still unable to simply fire a coach he’s determined is done with the Minnesota Timberwolves, general manager David Kahn recently proposed that Kurt Rambis accept a reassignment within the franchise’s front office, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday.
The prospects of Rambis serving out the remaining two years and $4 million on his coaching deal so closely with Kahn in the front office holds little, if any, appeal to Rambis, sources said. Rambis has little respect for Kahn’s basketball acumen, and perhaps even less of a personal affinity for him.
The two barely spoke over the final months of the regular season, and haven’t communicated much well into the offseason. Rambis has felt mistreated throughout the ongoing saga surrounding his future with the T’wolves, and prefers a finality to this endless public spectacle.
Kahn had believed that Rambis’ contract allowed for a reassignment, sources said, although those familiar with the agreement believe that notion would’ve been legally contested. There’s been no communication between management and Rambis for several days, sources said, and the coach remains in a strange sort of limbo: He knows he’s done as coach, but he’s still collecting his check as management actively searches for his replacement.
After initially raising the idea of a reassignment, sources said, Kahn has been less aggressive in its pursuit. With the idea more of a concept than a formal offer, Rambis hasn’t needed to officially reject the proposition. Inside and outside the organization, Kahn’s handling of Rambis’ inevitable dismissal is considered downright confounding.
Kahn made the formal decision to remove Rambis as coach two weeks ago, as Yahoo! Sports reported on June 22. Kahn’s pursuit of potential replacements for Rambis had been ongoing for several weeks, and hasn’t slowed lately, sources said.
Kahn has been contemplating several candidates to replace Rambis as coach, including Portland Trail Blazers assistant Bernie Bickerstaff and his son, J.B. Bickerstaff, who has been a member of Rambis’ coaching staff. Kahn also has shown a strong interest in University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar.
J.B. Bickerstaff is a popular choice among several T’wolves players, including star forward Kevin Love(notes), sources said. Bickerstaff is in demand with several teams as a potential assistant coach.
With the Timberwolves in the midst of a major rebuilding project, Rambis went 32-132 in two seasons as their coach, including a league-worst 17-65 this season. Kahn made the unusual request of asking Rambis to file a written report to him on changes Rambis would make if he returned as coach.
Kahn had wanted Rambis to become a better communicator with players. He also wanted him to design an offense away from the triangle and toward the open-court talents of rookie point guard Ricky Rubio(notes). Rambis’ relationship with key young players, especially Love, had been chilly.