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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Terry Porter spent 17 seasons in the NBA as a point guard, a two-time All-Star who helped Portland reach the NBA finals and was regarded as one of the smartest players at his position.
With helping Ricky Rubio make the transition from Spain to the United States one of David Kahn’s biggest priorities, it’s no wonder that Porter was the first person to get a formal interview for the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching vacancy.
A person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press that Porter interviewed on Monday. The person requested anonymity because the team was not commenting publicly on the search process.
Porter’s previous experience as a head coach — in Milwaukee and Phoenix — and his background as a point guard could make him an ideal fit in Minnesota, which is coming off 32 total wins in two seasons under Kurt Rambis.
But Kahn has been adamant that he wants a coach with “up-tempo DNA,” which seems to contradict Porter’s hard-nosed, defensive mindset. Porter went 71-93 in two seasons with the Bucks and lasted just over half a season in Phoenix in 2008-09 when his slow-it-down style didn’t jibe with Steve Nash and the high-octane Suns.
“We are going to play — as I’ve said really since the first day I arrived — a very up-tempo, fast-breaking style on both ends of the floor,” Kahn said last week when he announced Rambis’s firing. “And I think that it’s very important as we go through the search process that we identify somebody who passionately believes in that and probably has a little bit of a track record in that respect and can help make this come to fruition.”
Of course, the Timberwolves may need more help on the defensive end than they do on offense. With offensive-minded players such as Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson, the Wolves scored more than 101 points per game last season, good for 10th in the league.
But they gave up more points than any other team and consistently let leads slip away in the fourth quarter because of their inability to get stops.
Still, Kahn seems more concerned with finding a coach who wants to get the ball up and down the court quickly, a style that he thinks appeals to the players more than the grind-it-out, defensive game. With Rubio, Beasley, Love, Johnson and No. 2 overall draft pick Derrick Williams, Kahn thinks he has the talent to run, and that’s what he want to see happen.
Porter is the first to have a formal interview, but he won’t be the last. Kahn interviewed about a dozen candidates the first time he made a hire and promised a “voluminous” search this time around as well. Career wins leader Don Nelson, Trail Blazers assistant Bernie Bickerstaff and Memphis assistant Dave Joerger are among the others expected to get consideration.
“I think we’ll have a thorough search and we’ll try to find somebody who embraces the notion of wanting to coach an up-tempo style on both sides of the floor and somebody who really connects well with young players,” he said last week.
Porter has been a head coach twice before, in Milwaukee and Phoenix. He lasted just over half a season with the Suns in the 2008-09 season before being replaced by Alvin Gentry.
Porter spent three of his 17 NBA seasons playing in Minnesota. His background as a point guard could be attractive to the Timberwolves, who are looking for someone who can help Spanish import Ricky Rubio make the transition to the NBA.
The interview was first reported by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
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