I don't have to tell you that the last few years have been trying, to be generous, for fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The team hasn't been to the post-season since the 2003-04 team that lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, and has averaged about 20 victories a year over the last four seasons. What we've seen over the last four years has been a dazzling display of complete incompetence, both on the court and off of it.
Kevin McHale, who built those playoff teams in the earlier part of the decade, apparently lost his touch, and was awful in both the front office and on the sidelines as coach after Randy Wittman was fired during the 2008-09 season. He was replaced as general manager by David Kahn, and on the sidelines by former Laker Kurt Rambis. To call this pairing "disastrous" to this point would be a gross understatement, as over the last two seasons the Timberwolves have gone a combined 32-121.
Despite this, Kahn says that the rebuilding of the Timberwolves is "done." Well, if that's the case, then somebody needs to bring in a new architect, because the current one is terrible.
But I want to focus on Rambis here for a moment, because that guy is clearly in over his head as an NBA head coach. We all saw what happened when Lakers center/cheap shot artist Andrew Bynum took out Wolves forward Michael Beasley the other night, causing Beasley to have to leave the game with a hip injury and causing Bynum to get ejected (and subsequently suspended for two games). Two things stemmed from this that make me want to drive Rambis to Minneapols-St. Paul International myself.
The first one you've probably heard about, which is what Rambis said when asked about the foul after the game.
"I know Andrew, he wasn’t going up to do anything malicious," Rambis said. "He was just going to protect the basket. So I think he was making a good basketball play out of it. Those [flagrant fouls] are judgment calls by the referees. Unfortunately, Michael got hurt on it."
Take just a second to visualize something. I want you to imagine Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy, or any of the NBA's other premiere head coaches making an excuse like that. . .not for their own player, mind you, but for a player on the other team.
You can't do it, can you? I'm not surprised, considering that there's not a snowball's chance in Eduador that such a thing would ever occur. No, I really don't care that he came back a couple of nights later and said that it was, indeed, a flagrant act by Bynum. Defend your player, not theirs. . .you can apologize later.
But, then again, Rambis might not actually know who he's coaching for, as one of the folks at our outstanding Timberwolves' site, Canis Hoopus, has pointed out.
During the extended delay when the refs were looking at the monitor for Bynum’s flagrant 2, Kurt called Luke (Ridnour) over to the sideline to talk to him. Who else came in while Kurt and Luke were talking? None other than Derek Fisher, poking his head into the conversation. Now this is the player on an opponent trying to insert himself into a huddle between the coach and his point guard, presumably about game strategy (although that’s probably being charitable to Rambis). Any decent coach would tell the opponent to get the f*ck outta there. What did Rambis do, you might ask? He shared a laugh with good ol’ D Fish about the situation.
Try the same visualization exercise that I mentioned earlier with this situation. You'll likely get the same result. Seriously, letting an opposing player listen in on your conversation with your point guard? This isn't a rec league pick-up game, for crying out loud.
Many fans of the Timberwolves are calling for the firings of both Khan and Rambis, and with good reason. Many in the Minneapolis media have said that they don't think Wolves' owner Glen Taylor would be willing to eat the last two years of Rambis' fully guaranteed contract and then hire a new coach. He would if he cared even a little bit about this team. . .but I'm not so sure that he does.
During the 2004-05 season, Taylor fired head coach Flip Saunders for having the audacity to go 25-26 in the season's first 51 games. In 2006-07, the team fired Dwane Casey after the first 40 games of the year when the team had a record of 20-20.
In the 359 games since Casey was fired, the Wolves' record is a robust 90-269, a winning percentage of right around .250. With Michael Beasley injured and now Kevin Love nursing a groin injury, it's entirely possible that the Wolves won't win another game this season. For crying out loud, the team just lost at home by 32 points to the Sacramento Kings. . .the same Kings that, incidentally, continued their road trip in Chicago last night, and lost to the Bulls by 40. That's forty. Four-zero. But they were good enough to beat the Wolves in their own building by 32.
Man, wouldn't we Timberwolves fans just about give our left arm for a coach that was capable of getting the team to .500? Forget the playoffs, this is the point that things have gotten to for Minnesota's NBA fans. . .we'd be pleased as punch just to break even.
Kurt Rambis is obviously still carrying the proverbial torch for Los Angeles. If that's going to be the case, we certainly don't want or need him in Minnesota any more. If he could somehow take David Kahn with him as well, that would be great.