MINNEAPOLIS // After many years coaching under Phil Jackson, Kurt Rambis is finally getting a chance to run a team. Rambis has been hired as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the hope of transforming a struggling franchise into a contender. Terms were not disclosed, but the team said they had an agreement with Rambis, 51, who has been an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers for most of the past seven seasons.
Rambis won four NBA titles as a player with the Lakers in the 1980s and two more as an assistant coach, including last season when he served as the team's defensive coordinator. "This arguably is the most important decision I will make, and thus it required a lot of time," said David Kahn, who was hired in May to run the Timberwolves' basketball operations. "His reputation around the league is that he is a wonderful teacher who is hands-on on the court and one who understands that part of our business and will really energise it."
Rambis is a natural fit to mould the young Timberwolves, who have not made the play-offs since 2004 and won just 24 games last season. His work in player development was one of the reasons Kahn chose him. Long considered a possible heir apparent to Jackson in LA, Rambis filled in several times while the coach was out with medical issues. "Kurt has been the workhorse of my staff the past few years," Jackson said. "He's worked with the youth of our team, coming in early and staying late. We will miss him, but know this is his time to do what he's destined to do."
Rambis takes over in Minnes-- ota from Kevin McHale, the man who famously clothes-lined him while playing for the Boston Celtics in the 1984 NBA finals. McHale was let go in June. * AP