Harper on Rambis

Benjamin Polk —  July 13, 2011 — 5 Comments

Over at Truehoop, Zach has the definitive account of the Rambis era:

Rambis was not a very good coach over the past two years. His teams were inefficient offensively and abhorrent defensively. Last season, it seemed that he was one of the worst fourth-quarter coaches in the entire league because of how the Wolves seemed to kick away leads. (Yes, they actually had fourth-quarter leads.)…However, the way he’s been treated by Kahn and the Wolves organization in the past two months might be the most embarrassing part of this entire era. Rambis should have been fired right after the regular season ended. There was no real reason to drag this out. It’s just another case of the Wolves mismanaging a personnel decision within the organization. The Wolves already should have a head coach and be ready to make roster decisions once the lockout ends. Instead, they’ve once again been making moves without a head coach in place for the upcoming season.

All true. Here’s what I would add, though. Zach points out that, partially because Rambis was hired after the roster was set in 2009, this team was never temperamentally or compositionally cut out to run the triangle.  But its widely known that Tex Winter’s offense requires an exceptionally steep learning curve for young players. My impression was that, by hiring Rambis and giving him a four year deal, the Wolves were taking the long view, acknowledging that this would take some time and patience, that no team as young as the Wolves could ever have learned the system in two short years. Given that Kahn and Taylor appear to have run out of patience after just two seasons, one wonders why Rambis was hired and given such a vote of confidence to begin with.

Benjamin Polk

Posts

5 responses to Harper on Rambis

  1. I don’t have an issue with firing a coach who was 100 games under .500 in two seasons and did all but hold his nose while coaching the last 15 games of this past season, but it was pretty obvious from the start that Rambis was never a good hire. The only reason we thought it might be a good hire is because at that point we had to give Kahn the benefit of the doubt that he might know something outside observers did not. A lot of moves by Kahn have been really only defensible on this basis that we didn’t really know the guy and had to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, the track record is building up and as Jim Souter pointed out in the Star-Tribune, it’s not really a defense of Kahn to say not all of his moves were terrible. He is fine with obvious moves like drafting Derrick Williams but an actually good GM would extract value where the average person could not, and it isn’t apparent to me that he has ever done that. And it is funny to talk about building a team. How many of the moves he made in 2009 stuck? Flynn is gone, Hollins is gone, Sessions is gone. Not to use them in deals, but just to dump them as mistakes. They have some interesting young pieces, people say. True, but if being bad and acquiring some interesting young pieces is a plan for success, Elgin Baylor was a successful GM for 20 years.

  2. I think I essentially agree with your argument here. My only caveat would be to say that if Rubio works out and Williams ends up gelling with Love and Beasley and Wes does manage to improve, we would end up with a decent nucleus of a good team. Many ‘ifs’ I realize but not outside the realm of possibility–and if so, I think we could say that he’s done a rather competent job. I guess what I’m saying is that two seasons is probably not enough to cast firm verdicts on a GM, even one as baffling and occasionally infuriating as Kahn.

  3. Hi Ben, I appreciate your insight. My main point I guess (just cribbing from Souter here) is that in 2009, 2010 and 2011 the Wolves had high lottery picks, and Kahn took the guy that anybody would take (except Flynn, and that didn’t work out). Does that display a bare minimum of competence? Sure. But you stink and get high picks three straight drafts, draft the obvious guys at that level and that becomes a quality nucleus — to me, it’s hard to argue skill was involved. It’s like someone investing in the S&P 500 in the late 1990s and claiming he is an investment genius because it skyrockets. No, you did what any amateur would do and the market went its own way, you can’t take CREDIT for that. So I don’t know if whatever happens, it proves Kahn did a good job. Jerry West trading Divac for Kobe Bryant in 1996 is skill. Drafting Derrick Williams with the #2 pick in 2011 is being awake.

    To me what proves whether a GM really knows talent evaluation is who he drafts with picks out of the lottery. Here, Kahn has consistently traded down (blow a #20 pick, kind of bad. Blow a #35 pick and get cash, nobody notices) or traded out. Shrewd, if you want to cover your butt. Proof of talent evaluation skills, not really.

    Yeah, I’m rough on Kahn. Mostly because I am a lawyer and have been for 10 years and Kahn used to be a lawyer, and I feel like I know this kind of guy, the kind of partner who thinks the first grand step toward improving the firm is to move the office to an office with other good firms to create the “impression” it is a topnotch firm without the actual integrity to become a firm that does topnotch WORK. Yeah, I think he is a phony and I always have. But I am biased that way.

  4. move the office to a building, I mean. It’s late here in Tokyo.

  5. Not to go out of my way to defend Kahn, but I kind of get the feeling that some of the recent moves — essentially selling our #20 pick after trading down a few times and dragging out the Rambis saga — may be due more to Taylor and financial issues than to Kahn. I’m not saying Kahn is a great GM, but we supposedly have a great international scouting staff and should have been the team stashing Euros if money weren’t an issue (especially with the #31 pick).

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>