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.