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Wolves fire Kurt Rambis

The Timberwolves finally ended more than three months of uncertainty and awkwardness surrounding the head coach of the worst team in the NBA last season.

Blog post by: Jerry Zgoda

Updated: July 12, 2011 - 1:03 PM

The NBA's worst-kept secret is out.

The Timberwolves have finally fired coach Kurt Rambis.

The team released these words from David Kahn:

"I want to thank Kurt for his contributions to our franchise and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Kahn said in a statement announcing the firing. "His arrival signaled we were serious about building a championship-contending ballclub over the course of time. We have accumulated a solid nucleus of young talent with a bright future during the last two years. I am hopeful Kurt receives his share of the credit for helping develop that talent and his contributions are not forgotten as we become a better basketball team."

Rambis this morning released a statement to the Associated Press.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has given me," he said in it. "During my years working with coaches (Phil) Jackson, (Pat) Riley and (Cotton) Fitzsimmons, I learned all the ups and down of this sport. And today is one of the down days.

"But I'm confident that my work -- and the work of my staff -- with our many young players over the last two years will begin to pay off for Mr. Taylor and Timberwolves fans. Now, as important new players are added to the mix, the future of this franchise should be a bright one and I am thankful for the chance I had, to play a part in shaping that future.".

So who's the next coach?

Well, you take the J.B./Bernie Bickerstaff option off the table now that J.B. is headed to Houston to join Kevin McHale's staff..

Yahoo! Sports Marc Spears and Houston Chronicle beat writer Jonathan Feigen just tweeted that Bickerstaff and Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson -- both possible candidates for the Wolves' job -- both will join McHale's staff.

Today’s Rambis news shouldn’t surprise anyone awake for the last two months.

“It doesn’t surprise me just because of everything that’s been going on,” Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver said. “All the rumors: One day it’s all over the news that he’s fired and the next day he’s not. How can you keep somebody on after all that?

“For me, not having or having a coach this time of year didn’t really matter. It doesn’t change anything I do or don’t do. What it does is brings resolution for Kurt. Me and Kurt have a good relationship. I’m glad for him that it’s resolved one way or the other, so that he’s able to move on.”

Rambis was 32-132 in those two seasons since the Wolves signed him to a four-year contract in August 2009 after he spent nearly three decades with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player, assistant coach and front-office executive.

He brought elements of mentor Phil Jackson’s mysterious triangle offense with him from Los Angeles. It turned out to be a mismatch of system and philosophy with a young team that never seemed to fully grasp or believe in it.

“I never really thought the offense was a problem, the defensive side was,” Tolliver said. “We scored enough points to win games. We struggled with the ability to get easy buckets in crunch time, but our main problem was the defensive end. Whoever they bring in next, it’s really important that they be a defensive coach.”

But this is a roster built for offense, isn’t it?

“We do have a lot of firepower,” Tolliver said. “But at the end of the day, in order to win you have to play defense. No one ever won by just scoring…I think we did spend enough time on it. Kurt definitely taught it and we did it in practice, but with different coaches’ styles and different coaching personalities, sometimes certain people respond in different ways to different people.

“I don’t think his message ever got across to some of the people. To some of us, it did. Some guys bought in and some guys didn’t.”

Asked what kind of coach the team needs to hire next, Tolliver said, “Someone who’s going to be a disciplinarian. Kurt’s a really nice guy. Sometimes that got in the way. I’m not saying he’s too nice, but sometimes it’s good to have a coach no likes to be a jerk.

“I know several players on the Bulls and nobody really liked Tom Thibodeau, but that’s O.K. You don’t have to like the coach. You just have to be able to play for him.”

This post is from the On the Wolves blog

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