MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — David Kahn is returning as president of the Minnesota Timberwolves next season. Kurt Rambis as coach? That remains to be seen.
Kahn said Wednesday that owner Glen Taylor has assured him he will return next season. But Kahn declined to discuss the job status of Rambis on the same day the Timberwolves wrapped up another disastrous season.
“This isn’t the right time to make decisions,” Kahn said when asked about Rambis’ job security. “We’ve been in the midst of a season and I’ve been watching every game carefully, many of the practices, and we need to talk over the next several weeks, month, who knows?
“This isn’t the right time. It’s a very emotional time whenever you’re playing. There’s no timetable or no pressure for us to do something right now.”
Rambis was unavailable for immediate comment until later Wednesday, when the Timberwolves were hosting the Houston Rockets in their final game of the season. With the game pending, Rambis was 32-131 in his first two seasons and the Wolves a league-worst 17-64.
Kahn lamented the lack of improvement from the beginning of the season to the end.
The youngest team in the league showed signs of progress early in the season, winning four of its first 13 games and taking heavyweights San Antonio (twice), Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers to the wire before losing close games.
“I felt the team was playing well and I felt the team was improving, Kahn said. “And I felt we had some players that were improving dramatically individually. And then for whatever reason, tracing back to the week before the All-Star break and the week after the All-Star break, it just stopped. And I don’t know why.”
The Wolves have won just four times in the last two months, with the same old problems each time — turnovers, poor shot selection and atrocious defense. In their last two games, the Wolves allowed Denver’s Ty Lawson to hit 10 3-pointers and Phoenix’s Channing Frye to make nine.
The second-half slide is similar to last season, when the team went 2-28 in its final 30 games.
“This is a very different team than we had a year ago, but this is two years in a row where, for whatever reason, the team didn’t improve as the season wore on,” Kahn said. “I think you can make a fair argument that a young team probably should show even more team improvement as the season winds down than an older team.”
That doesn’t sound very good for Rambis, who left his role as Phil Jackson’s top assistant with the Lakers two years ago to take over a massive rebuilding project. He was given a four-year contract, a show of confidence from Taylor that he would be given time to get things turned around.
Kahn applauded Rambis’s work developing several players, Kevin Love in particular. Love earned his first All-Star bid this season and leads the NBA in rebounding. Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic have also shown flashes of the potential that scouts once saw in them, but inconsistency and the league’s worst defense have kept the Timberwolves from turning the corner.
Several players have come to their coach’s defense, including Love, Beasley and veteran forward Anthony Tolliver.
“It’s not a direct reflection of him,” Love said recently. “It’s all of us being young and being a youthful team. As a team, and especially me as a player, I have Kurt’s back.”
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