Timberwolves president David Kahn remains mum on his intentions for coach Kurt Rambis and his future, despite a Yahoo! Sports report that said a decision to fire Rambis had already been made.
What is the wait for?
June 30 is a day to keep an eye on, because the contracts of the assistants under New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni are set to expire that day. Kahn built this team to be run as a fast-pace, run-and-gun offense—D’Antoni’s signature offense and philosophy he developed in Pheonix and brought with to New York.
On that day, and possibly the days following it, a number of coaching candidates could become available for Minnesota, including D’Antoni himself. Knicks president Donnie Walsh, possibly D’Antoni’s only ally in the organization, is set to officially step down from his job that same day.
If New York decides to not renew D’Antoni’s assistants, it may force D’Antoni himself to step down, making him available.
Several reports in New York remain optimistic the Knicks will give D’Antoni another year and coach the final year of his contract, but the fates of his assistants are unknown, even just days away from their contracts expiring.
But assuming D’Antoni remains in New York, there is a possibility that his coaching staff—or parts of it—will not be retained. A couple, in particular, make good head coach candidates for the Timberwolves.
Candidate No. 1 Phil Weber
Before joining D’Antoni with the Knicks, he spent nine seasons as an assistant coach with the Suns (1999-2000 through 2007-08). D’Antoni himself said Weber knows his fast-pace offense inside out.
“Phil knows the offense which we’ve carried over from Phoenix, and he’s been with me the whole time,” D’Antoni said of Weber.
Weber is also known for his natural enthusiasm and optimism, the opposite of Rambis’ cool demeanor on the bench.
Weber worked with young players as the head coach for the Suns’ Summer League rosters in the past and even worked with the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team.
Candidate No. 2 Dan D’Antoni
Mike’s older brother, prior to joining the Knicks, was also an assistant coach with the Suns for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Dan has some head coaching experience as he coached the Knicks squad at the 2010 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Mike once said about Dan, “He has a wealth of knowledge,” Mike said of his brother. “He’s been coaching now for 35 years and developed a lot of players. Just as a bench and developmental coach, he’s very, very good.”
He too has been in the offense long enough to understand it well.
While Herb Williams and Kenny Atkinson may become available from D’Antoni’s staff and have been a part of his coaching philosophies since 2008, they are not considered strong candidates.
Williams is a senior bench coach with New York ties and is a holdover when D’Antoni arrived. Atkinson spent a lot of time in the international game, player development and scouting to New York before becoming a staff member for D’Antoni.
Weber and Dan D’Antoni are a strong candidates and real possibilities. They may be key to why Kahn remains mum on his intentions.
As far as the rumors that Rambis has a non-guaranteed contract in the event of a lockout, I don’t believe that is the reason for Kahn dragging this on. If the contract is the case, Kahn and the team could face legal ramifications for deciding on firing him when it is cost-convenient.
Original report on Minnesota Sports Zone