Posted on: July 7, 2011 1:27 pm
Evidently, there is a method to David Kahn’s madness. And as always, follow the money if you want the explanation.
Kurt Rambis hasn’t coached a game for the Timberwolves in nearly three months. He will never coach a game for them again. Despite technically still being under contract, Rambis has been informed that he need not be in Minnesota for the offseason – and this was the case even before the lockout. Sources say only two members of the Wolves’ coaching staff, J.B. Bickerstaff and Darrick Martin, have been asked to come to work at the team’s offices this summer. Everyone else can, you know, go on vacation – where Rambis, in particular, won’t have to spend his days staring at the writing on the wall.
Sources have said there is no provision in Rambis’ contract that would’ve saved the Wolves money by waiting until after July 1 to officially fire him. Rambis is owed $4 million over the next two seasons regardless of when he is fired.
But as Yahoo! Sports reports, Kahn had other ideas. The possibility of offering Rambis a reassignment within the basketball operations department has been discussed internally, though it is not believed to have been formally proposed to Rambis. It is beyond question that Rambis has no desire to accept such an arrangement. Sources say the former Lakers assistant has little use for Kahn as a basketball executive, much less one that he would continue to work for after being removed as coach.
Kahn’s mishandling of Rambis’ firing – which still, inexplicably, hasn’t happened – is an embarrassment for the organization at a time when good things finally were starting to happen (Michael Beasley's citation for marijuana possession notwithstanding). Ricky Rubio is signed for next season – whenever next season is – and although Kahn had virtually nothing to do with it, it’s nonetheless an important moment for a franchise that has won a grand total of 32 games the past two seasons.
But no amount of progress could stand in the way of Kahn’s efforts to further ingratiate himself to owner Glen Taylor by proposing this insulting, cost-saving arrangement with Rambis. Business simply isn’t done this way in a reputable sports league, yet Kahn insists on penny-pinching his way into Taylor’s good graces at the expense of alienating any coaches or front-office executives who might someday be forced to work for him.
Funny, Taylor is one of the owners who are most convinced that the NBA will not have a 2011-12 season, according to sources familiar with his position on the lockout. So maybe Taylor could send Rambis overseas to scout overage potential draft picks in the meantime, instead of paying him to do something more useful – like nothing.
While we’re on the topic, sources say the Wolves expect a favorable ruling from the NBA office that they will be able to keep No. 57 pick Tanguy Nbombo despite a dispute over his age. Though information has come to light that Ngombo is 26 – and thus ineligible for the draft – sources say the Wolves have government documentation from multiple entities that Ngombo is, in fact, 21. The belief among some executives is that a team should not be punished if government documentation is inaccurate.
As for what should be done with buffoonish general managers who continue to embarrass their team and alienate colleagues and competitors with their arrogance and ineptitude? Something else to contemplate during the lockout.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 11:35 pm
The latest trade buzz surrounding Thursday night's NBA draft, from conversations with executives, agents and others in the know:
* The Warriors have fielded numerous calls about Monta Ellis, and seem to be cautiously open to discussing the star guard's desire for a change of scenery. Such efforts have become increasingly difficult since the hiring of Mark Jackson as coach. Jackson wants to coach Ellis, and has become well aware that he has emerged as owner Joe Lacob's favorite player on the team.
* A recent conversation between the Warriors and Lakers centered around Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown going to Golden State for Ellis, but those talks went nowhere, sources said. The Bulls would become involved if they were willing to part with Joakim Noah, and Chicago executives have consistently balked at including him in trade talks for the past year -- mostly due to the base-year compensation factor in the five-year, $60 million extension he signed last year.
* Executives also have heard Ellis mentioned in conversations with Memphis for Rudy Gay, but acquiring Gay would be extraordinarily problematic for any team given the uncertainty about what new economic and cap system the league and players eventually will adopt. With four years and $68 million left on his contract, Gay "isn't going anywhere," one executive said.
* One of the few trades that makes sense as teams weigh the effects of taking on money in a shrinking-cap world is a deal that has been dormant for weeks: Ellis to Philadelphia for Andre Iguodala. Both players have three years left, and although Iguodala is owed $44 million compared to Ellis' $33 million, those are the only deals most teams will be willing to make between now and June 30 -- those in which they don't have to take on additional years of salary.
* The Timberwolves have peddled the No. 2 pick far and wide and have been unable to land an offer that tempts them. Discussions with the Lakers centered around Odom, but that wouldn't be good business to trade young, cheap labor for a 31-year-old making $8.9 million next season -- even though he has only $2.4 million guaranteed in 2012-13.
* Speaking of the Wolves, team officials continued to say Wednesday night that coach Kurt Rambis hasn't been fired yet, but the more things like that are stated, the more obvious it becomes that Rambis is gone. The search for a replacement will begin soon after the draft.
* Spurs officials continue to do what they're paid to do -- find out what their players are worth on the trade market. That's all the Tony Parker speculation is, several rival execs believe. "You know and I know they're not trading Tony Parker," one GM said. "You can't get anything close to equal value for him."
Posted on: April 27, 2011 1:31 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 2:04 pm
Warriors coach Keith Smart, who has been under evaluation since Golden State's season ended, will not be back next season, the team announced Wednesday.
Comcast SportsNet-Bay Area first reported the decision on Smart, who took over for Don Nelson last season and went 36-46. The Warriors' new front office, led by former agent Bob Myers, decided not to pick up Smart's team option for the 2011-12 season.
Golden State joins Houston on the coaching-search trail, with the Pistons (John Kuester) soon to follow once the ownership transfer to Tom Gores is completed. The Timberwolves' basketball staff is meeting later this week to discuss, among other things, the future of coach Kurt Rambis. Sources say Minnesota brass are in no rush to make a decision on Rambis, who is in danger and will be required to make some significant changes to his style and philosophy if asked to stay.
In Toronto, coach Jay Triano's future is tied to general manager Bryan Colangelo, who appears to be on his way out unless the majority owners from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan are successful in selling their stake in the team, sources say. There are strong indications that Pacers coach Frank Vogel will be retained after taking over for Jim O'Brien and losing to the top-seeded Bulls 4-1 in the first round. It also is believed that team president Larry Bird, who has been contemplating retirement, will be back next season, sources with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.
As CBSSports.com reported Monday, the Knicks are poised to retain team president Donnie Walsh with a two-year extension, pending Walsh becoming comfortable that he will have undisputed final say over basketball operations. It is Walsh's desire to retain coach Mike D'Antoni, who has one year left on his contract, sources say.
Speculation has surrounded Smart's future for weeks as new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber seemed poised to put their own stamp on the franchise. The process began two weeks ago when Golden State hired Myers, an influential agent with Wasserman Media Group, as assistant GM, signaling that he will be groomed for the top job while GM Larry Riley remains with a contract extension. The decision not to retain Smart ultimately was ownership's call, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Posted on: April 15, 2011 6:59 pm
NEW YORK -- Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told CBSSports.com Friday that he needs more time to evaluate coach Kurt Rambis, but that general manager David Kahn is safe.
"What I’ve kind of asked David and the staff to do is, let’s just take a little bit of time now, back off, and ask everybody to put in some evaluations," Taylor said after the NBA Board of Governors meetings. "Also, look at what are our options going ahead. What could we change? Then, come together and talk about what’s the best solution here. My sense is, it’s just too close to a season in which we didn’t meet the goals that we had set out, so it’s a little frustratiing right now. I’d just as soon not make a final decision when you’re in a little bit of a down mood."
Asked if Kahn were undergoing the same type of evaluation, Taylor said he's made the decision to keep his general manager in place despite 32 wins combined over his first two seasons.
"No, I think I‘ve kind of met with the staff and said, 'Let’s go ahead,'" Taylor said. "Because I’m asking those guys to put together the information for me (on Rambis)."
There are strong indications that Rambis will be fired with two years left on his contract. Despite Rambis' accomplishments developing Kevin Love and Michael Beasley -- the latter being a reclamation project that was believed impossible -- the Wolves are seeking a more energetic sideline figure and better communicator. Though Kahn's relationship with Rambis has improved in recent months, the GM held an end-of-season news conference Wednesday in which he did not endorse Rambis returning next season.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:18 am
Joe Lacob has impressed everyone who's dealt with him so far as an outside-the-box thinker. On Wednesday, the Warriors' owner reached outside the typical circle of candidates and found a sharp, creative basketball man who eventually will run his organization.
High-profile agent Bob Myers will become the latest to make the transition from the representation business to the front office as the Warriors' new assistant general manager, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.
GM Larry Riley will remain in the top spot, but it is clear to those familiar with Lacob's strategy that he envisions Myers eventually taking over the leading role. It is possible that Riley could remain in some capacity when the transition is complete, one of the sources said.
The move was first reported by San Jose Mercury News.
Myers, who worked under Arn Tellem at Wasserman Media Group, will renounce his representation ties to all NBA clients. His impressive roster includes such players as Brandon Roy, Tyreke Evans, Kendrick Perkins, Brook Lopez, and DeAndre Jordan. Myers follows in the footsteps of agents-turned executives Jason Levien (formerly with the Kings) and Lon Babby (hired as the Suns' president last summer.)
The first order of business for the Riley-Myers team will be to decide whether coach Keith Smart will be back for another season. A person familiar with Lacob's strategy said he wants sweeping changes in the long term, but may not be ready to part ways with his coach immediately. Lacob, according to one source, hasn't formed a strong opinion of Smart one way or the other. It could be "a couple of weeks" before the team makes a decision on Smart, according to the source, noting that Lacob wants Myers to "get his feet wet" before making any major decisions.
The end of the regular season Wednesday night is expected to bring the usual flurry of personnel moves, with Pistons coach John Kuester and Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis the most likely to be fired, multiple sources told CBSSports.com. Kuester's firing is widely believed to be a foregone conclusion, though a source said there is "no timetable for anything" the organization is doing due to the pending ownership change. Rambis' tenuous situation did not get any help from GM David Kahn on Wednesday.
In holding his season-ending news conference before the season was over, Kahn stopped short of providing a vote of confidence for Rambis and said the coach's fate would be decided after the GM meets with owner Glen Taylor in the coming weeks. There seems to be little reason to wait, as two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Wednesday that preparations are under way for Rambis to be let go with two years left on his contract.
Rockets coach Rick Adelman, whose second consecutive season out of the playoffs ended Wednesday night, faces an uncertain future in Houston -- where everyone's contract is up. One person familiar with the situation described Adelman's status Wednesday as "to be determined."
In Toronto, GM Bryan Colangelo is caught in a dysfunctional situation in which powerful board member Glen Silvestri wants him out. Colangelo had sold ownership on a rebuilding plan in the wake of Chris Bosh leaving for Miami, and "that direction was agreed on," a person familiar with the situation said. But some members of ownership, chiefly Silvestri, are now suffering from what one source described as "convenient amnesia."
Colangelo's contract expires June 30, and coach Jay Triano also does not have a contract for next season. With the team expected to go up for sale in the next six months, and with a work stoppage looming, it isn't clear how quickly the majority owners will take action.
Meanwhile, as the Pacers prepare for their first-round playoff series against the top-seeded Bulls, team president Larry Bird remains "conflicted" about his future, a source said. While Bird wants to complete the rebuilding project he undertook with general manager David Morway, there are strong indications that his desire to spend time with his family and get out of the limelight -- where the Hall of Famer has always been a reluctant participant -- is weighing heavily on him. Bird's future directly affects Morway, who is expected to get a shot at the top job if Bird departs. Similarly, interim coach Frank Vogel's future is uncertain, though Vogel has earned the right to receive the first interview if the team embarks on a full-fledged coaching search.
Posted on: November 17, 2010 1:14 pm
Their three-game winning streak and 22-gun salute from the 3-point line against the Lakers notwithstanding, these are delicate times for the Phoenix Suns. So delicate, in fact, that a speculative riff on an NBA writer’s podcast last week sparked a flurry of trade rumors surrounding Steve Nash.
Such is life in the NBA blogosmear, but there’s an element of truth to the speculation. Watching Nash play without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Stoudemire without Nash, is a classic lesson in being careful what you wish for. The Suns, like many NBA teams, were hesitant to lavish five guaranteed years on Stoudemire given the uninsurable state of his knees. The Knicks, boxed out of the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sweepstakes, were in the rare position of being open to Stoudemire’s in-person overtures back in July. It was a match made in Desperadoville.
The Knicks were in Denver Tuesday night to face the Nuggets and the latest apple of their eyes, Carmelo Anthony. They arrived in a tailspin, having lost five in a row, and left with a 120-118 loss, a six-game losing streak, and much of the hopelessness inspired by Knicks teams of the past decade. No fewer than 15 power forwards playing at least 25 minutes per game are ahead of Stoudemire in efficiency rating, according to Hoopdata.com. Among them are Michael Beasley, Charlie Villanueva and Hakim Warrick – who replaced Stoudemire in Phoenix. You don’t need data to see that Stoudemire is struggling in his new home. Watching him search in vain for someone who knows how to run a pick-and-roll is evidence enough.
Despite Warrick’s statistical accomplishments, things aren’t much better for Nash and the Suns. Lost in the Suns’ unconscious shooting exploits in a 121-116 victory over the Lakers Sunday night was the ongoing horror show of watching Nash dribble around desperately in search of someone to set a capable screen and roll to the basket. Both Nash and Stoudemire have lost something irreplaceable in each other.
While the Knicks plan to do their due diligence and inquire as to Nash’s availability, the Suns haven’t gotten to the point of entertaining offers, according to an executive familiar with their strategy. Coach Alvin Gentry already has made it clear publicly that the Suns aren’t trading Nash, and the executive familiar with the team’s posture characterized the flurry of rumors as “random” and “not factual.” But in Phoenix, as with many revenue-challenged NBA cities, basketball sense doesn’t always align with financial reality.
Without Stoudemire – and assuming they can’t make 20-plus 3-pointers a night for the rest of the season – the Suns will be struggling to get a whiff of the eighth seed come April. They’re the worst rebounding team in the league in terms of defensive rebounding rate and offensive rebounding differential, and the loss of center Robin Lopez to a sprained knee certainly won’t help.
“We’ve got to be a little bit more scrappy than we’ve been in the past,” said Jared Dudley, a key member of the superior bench that made the Suns such a threat to the Lakers in the conference finals last spring.
But Suns owner Robert Sarver, whose non-basketball businesses in the banking and real estate sectors have been hammered by the recession, isn’t paying $63 million for a scrappy, barely .500 team. The Suns are comfortably below the $70.3 million luxury-tax threshold, so there’s no urgency there. However, Sarver has been one of the most vocal in a new wave of owners in the collective bargaining fight, and rival executives believe he’ll be on a rampage at the trade deadline if the Suns are out of the playoff hunt. That’s an eventuality the Suns hope to prevent, and despite their current upswing, it will prove to be a difficult fight.
“Hopefully we can get a couple of wins in a row so we can get those rumors away,” Dudley said of the Nash speculation. “You don’t want your franchise player to go. He makes everybody better here and he’s the face of Phoenix. If you think the transition is big with Amar’e, I can only imagine. It would be a journey having [Nash] leave.”
Which brings us to the next step in our journey, to the rest of the Post-Ups:
• With Jermaine O’Neal out several weeks with a sore left knee, you and I both know what name comes to mind as a free-agent replacement: Rasheed Wallace. While ‘Sheed’s agent, Bill Strickland, wouldn’t completely rule it out, it doesn’t sound like Wallace is even contemplating the possibility of coming out of retirement – for the Celtics or anybody else. “I have not talked to Danny [Ainge, the Celtics’ president] or Rasheed about that, but I think Rasheed is through,” Strickland said. Wallace, 36, isn’t believed to be working out on the court in any capacity in the event a team might be interested in his services. And while it’s hard to imagine Wallace coming back with the NBA’s tech-happy mandate to the referees, it’s more of a physical issue. As far back as when Wallace was still with the Pistons, he was known to sometimes leave his shoes on between games in order to keep playing. If he’d removed them, his ankles would’ve swelled up so badly that he wouldn’t have been able to get them back on.
• Leave it to the Zen Master to decode the mystery of Utah’s amazing string of double-digit road comebacks last week. Lakers coach Phil Jackson pointed out that Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is perhaps the only NBA coach who elects to have his team play offense in front of his bench in the second half. Most coaches prefer to have their team in front of them on defense down the stretch of road games. Lo and behold, the Jazz reeled off double-digit road comebacks against Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte by pouring on the offense in the second half. Visiting coaches choose which basket to defend in which half. “You can generate a lot of points in front of your bench,” Jackson said. “Defensively, a lot of coaches like their team to be in front of the bench in the second half on the road, because you can call stuff and give eyes to the players with their back to the basket. They’re the only team in the NBA that does it the other way.”
• Brandon Roy’s future with bone-on-bone in both knees bears watching, given that his game is based on getting to the basket and he’s only 26 – with a lot of mileage theoretically ahead of him. But Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and former consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers, said it depends on the extent of the damage and where it is. After his latest bout with knee swelling and pain last week, Roy learned that surgery was not an option because he has no meniscus left in either knee. DiNubile said Roy’s fate will be determined by whether he lacks cartilage, too. “It would be extremely unlikely at that age to have no meniscus and no cartilage,” DiNubile said. Whether the bone-on-bone condition is occurring in the actual knee joint (bad) or under the kneecap (still bad, but better) also is important. If the bone-on-bone situation is where the tibia meets the femur, “You’re kind of doomed,” DiNubile said. “That’s not compatible with up-and-down playing. If he were to have bone-on-bone in the main part of his knee, his career’s going to be limited one way or the other.” If the condition exists in the kneecap, DiNubile said athletes “can do surprisingly well.”
• As more than an innocent bystander in the Carmelo Anthony saga, Nuggets coach George Karl is more than doing his part by using his considerable powers of persuasion to try to keep Melo in Denver. But it’s impossible to evaluate Karl’s efforts on that front without noting his own pursuit of a contract extension. Two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that the Nuggets view Karl as part of their future, regardless of whether Anthony stays. Whether Karl wants to remain in Denver if he winds up with a rebuilding team post-Anthony – that’s another matter. But despite Karl’s disenchantment with the ouster of his friends Mark Warkentien and Tim Grgurich, the lines of communication between Karl, GM Masai Ujiri, executive Josh Kroenke, and team president Paul Andrews are very much open. And weighing on the matter more than Anthony’s future is Karl’s health. Karl, 59, has several more hurdles to clear in his heroic efforts to beat throat and neck cancer, and wants to be sure he remains cancer-free before asking the Nuggets to commit to him beyond this season. Everyone in the NBA, including the Denver front office, is rooting for him.
• Tayshaun Prince’s repeated blowups, with coach John Kuester giving as good as he’s getting, aren’t expected to play a major role in the Pistons’ decision on whether to trade the swingman and his $11.1 million expiring contract. A person with knowledge of Prince’s thinking told CBSSports.com that his frustration isn’t fully directed at Kuester; losing, after his time as a member of the formerly contending Pistons, is a bigger issue. But the biggest issue in the decision on whether to move him is the impending ownership change in Detroit. Trading an expiring deal, by definition, involves taking on future money – which is difficult, at best, to do when a new owner is entering the picture.
• Kevin Love’s 31-point, 31-rebound game – an incredible performance and the first of its kind since Moses Malone in 1982 – was a quiet victory for Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis. Rambis had been trying to prove a point to Love by limiting his minutes: If you don’t play both ends of the floor, you’re not going to play. Rambis’ message finally got through, and the result was an example of what Love is capable of when he puts his mind to it. But this isn’t the end of the dysfunction in Minnesota, by any stretch. Just because Love performed in an historic way doesn’t mean he’s buying Rambis’ message long-term. And a person familiar with the Wolves’ locker room dynamics isn’t convinced it’s smooth sailing from here. “The team is a disaster,” the person said. Depending on who you ask, the issue is either lack of communication from Rambis, or an unwillingness to listen on the part of Love and others who are disenchanted with minutes. It’s going to take more time to sort it all out.
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Berger's Post-Ups, Brandon Roy, Carmelo Anthony, Celtics, George Karl, Jared Dudley, Jazz, Jermaine O'Neal, Jerry Sloan, John Kuester, Kevin Love, Knicks, Kurt Rambis, Lakers, Nuggets, Phil Jackson, Pistons, Rasheed Wallace, Robert Sarver, Steve Nash, Suns, Tayshaun Prince, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers
Posted on: August 10, 2009 11:56 am
Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis is finalizing contract details to become the Timberwolves' next head coach, with the agreement expected to be signed Tuesday, according to a person involved in the negotiations.
Posted on: August 6, 2009 11:30 am
Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis has traveled to Minnesota to meet for a third time with Timberwolves officials about the team's long-vacant head coaching job. A person with direct knowledge of the talks confirmed that Rambis has emerged as the favorite to succeed Kevin McHale and is awaiting a formal contract proposal.
The T-Wolves, led by new GM David Kahn, have undertaken a thorough and painstaking process to name a replacement for McHale, who left the organization amid disagreements with Kahn about how to remake the roster. Kahn interviewed a laundry list of current assistant coaches for the job, illustrating the T-Wolves' unsurprising efforts to minimize the cost of a head coaching hire. The list was recently narrowed to three candidates: Rambis, ESPN/ABC analyst Mark Jackson, and Rockets assistant Elston Turner.
Minnesota's coaching search has been sidetracked this summer by Kahn's efforts to broker a buyout with No. 5 overall pick Ricky Rubio's Spanish team, DKV Joventut. Kahn and T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor met with Rubio's agent, Dan Fegan, last month at Las Vegas Summer League, and Kahn also traveled to Spain in an effort to broker a deal. While Fegan attempts to secure endorsement deals for Rubio that would help fund his buyout -- the T-Wolves can contribute only $500,000 under NBA rules -- Joventut reportedly is weighing whether to accept a buyout or sell his contract to another European team, which could be more lucrative.
Rambis, who helped coach the Lakers to their 15th NBA title in June, has emerged as the favorite partly due to Fegan's fondness for him -- the theory being that hiring a coach Rubio finds acceptable would enhance the chances of the 18-year-old point guard reporting to Minnesota rather than continuing to play overseas.
Rambis going to Minnesota would essentially clear a path for Lakers assistant Brian Shaw to become Phil Jackson's right-hand man on the Lakers' bench and eventually succeed Jackson when he retires.