Kurt Rambis was fired as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves early Tuesday morning. Despite leading the team to a horrendous record during his two seasons at the helm, however, it was president of basketball operations taking the brunt of the backlash among respected national media.
That shouldn't be surprising, of course, as Kahn handled the situation worse than most would have thought possible just a few months prior. Still, it goes to show that the state of the franchise is in a delicate situation with Kahn leading the way.
Zach Harper of ESPN wondered aloud if Rambis was even the person to blame for the Timberwolves 32-132 record while he was at the helm, noting that the now-former Minnesota coach did well in his short stint with the Los Angeles Lakers and wasn't exactly given much to work with from Kahn.
Kahn has been the laughingstock of the NBA because he's been both arrogant in the way he discusses his moves and because of the moves themselves. Rambis was never the right hire for this job, considering he wasn't involved initially at the beginning of this Kahn-led rebuilding process.
Between the time Kahn took over the team in late May 2009, and when Rambis was hired in early August 2009, Kahn had already made five trades involving 17 different players. He also had butchered four of the 30 first-round picks in the 2009 draft.
Rambis was not a very good coach over the past two years. His teams were inefficient offensively and abhorrent defensively. Last season, it seemed that he was one of the worst fourth-quarter coaches in the entire league because of how the Wolves seemed to kick away leads. (Yes, they actually had fourth-quarter leads.) But I'm not so sure he was as bad as his 32-132 record would suggest.
Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe also penned an excellent piece on the issues revolving around Kahn, though Rambis also takes his fair share of the blame, noting that this situation could have an impact on future hirings (something I also pointed out on Twitter).
But no one thinks that was the case, and that perception matters. As SI.com's Chris Mannix tweeted Tuesday afternoon, the league has obviously taken notice of how the Wolves have handled Rambis' dismissal, just as the next guy who thinks about taking Portland's GM position will surely hear cautionary notes from an NBA chorus that doesn't understand why Blazers' owner Paul Allen enjoys firing GMs so much. This won't stop elite candidates from taking jobs with either franchise, since there are so few top NBA jobs to go around. But it might give pause to a few such candidates, either for the top gig or an assistant spot, and the controversies certainly haven't improved either franchise's reputation among players, agents and fans.
Finding Rambis's replacement probably won't be as easy as it should have been for Kahn if league-wide perception in the coaching ranks is as poor as it seems everywhere else.