Monday, May 23, 2011
Kurt Rambis in limbo, but at workout
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kurt Rambis sat in the Minnesota Timberwolves practice facility on Monday, wearing a Timberwolves polo shirt and watching several draft prospects work out in front of a host of coaches, scouts and executives from around the league.
He sat several feet away from Minnesota president David Kahn, a scene that wouldn't have been quite so awkward if Rambis knew whether he was returning for a third season as Timberwolves coach.
Rambis made a surprise appearance on Monday as the Wolves hosted draft prospects and league officials for the second day of a three-day minicamp. Neither Rambis nor Kahn were made available for interviews, but Kahn said through a team spokesman that no decision has been made on the future of Rambis yet, with the June 23 draft one month away.
Rambis has two years left on his contract. He won just 32 games in the first two seasons on the job and the Wolves lost the final 15 games of this season to finish with the worst record in the NBA. They will draft second after Cleveland jumped over them in the lottery last week.
When he was hired two years ago, Rambis asked for a four-year deal to leave the Los Angeles Lakers in order to have the kind of job security he deemed necessary to implement the massive rebuilding project he and Kahn planned. The roster has been turned over in both offseasons he's been on the job, and he coached the youngest team in the league last year.
Despite significant upgrades in talent, the Wolves won just two more games -- 17 -- than they did the previous season, and Kahn said at the conclusion of the year that he would take his time to make a decision on bringing Rambis back.
Kahn has followed through on that vow. The season has been over for nearly six weeks, and Kahn has yet to make an announcement.
Rambis did not accompany team officials to Chicago for the draft combine earlier this month, but it's not unusual for coaches to miss that event.
It's also not unusual for the Timberwolves to be operating with some coaching uncertainty this close to the draft. Golden State, Houston, Indiana and the Lakers all have coaching openings that need to be filled as well.
What was unusual on Monday, however, was seeing a team president and coach in the same gym despite the tenuousness of their working relationship.
The Lakers' Mitch Kupchak, Washington's Flip Saunders, New Jersey's Avery Johnson and Indiana's Larry Bird were among the dozens of coaches, scouts and executives who attended the workouts. They looked on as players such as Butler's Matt Howard, Wisconsin's Jon Leuer and Michigan State's Kalin Lucas went through rigorous workouts.
They also watched as Kahn and Rambis stood not far from each other despite the uncertainty surrounding their working relationship. The president and the coach who just two years ago were billed as the tandem that was going to turn around one of the league's most woebegone franchises did not speak to each other during the 15 minutes the workout was opened to the media, but it was not clear if the two met or spoke at any other point in the session.
The three-day camp concludes on Wednesday with two workouts. Kansas guard Josh Selby, Butler guard Shelvin Mack and Florida forward Chandler Parsons are among the players scheduled to attend.