Yahoo’s Gil Alcaraz characterizes Don Nelson, he of 1335 career wins as a man “considered one of the greatest NBA coaches of all-time.” And if you ignore Nellie’s brief tenure in New York (or his second stint in Oakland), that’s a fair enough statement. The news that Nelson is interested in Minnesota’s coaching vacancy provides some levity for Tim Kawakami (“my goodness, I think Anthony Randolph just fainted…David Kahn + Nelson? Yes, it’s possible Nellie believes he’s found his next Robert Rowell $12M fool, and maybe he has”) and Mike Tokito (“the mix of Nellie and GM David Kahn together? You could charge admission to watch their meetings”), but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jim Souhan saves his full energy for an evisceration of Kahn ; “If you parse his grandiloquent language and stare into his eyes as he explains his basketball vision, what you discover is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Kahn said his search for Rambis’ replacement will be “wide but not voluminous.” That is gibberish.
He said he wants his next coach to encourage an “up-tempo” style of play. That is silly, because last year Rambis’ Timberwolves ranked first in the NBA in pace of play, according to ESPN’s John Hollinger, and demonstrated what happens when a poor team plays fast. It loses 65 games.
It’s not that all the moves he has made are bad; it’s that his decisions display no more insight or basketball knowledge than the average fan on the street possesses. In fact, the average fan probably wouldn’t have let Rambis dangle, and probably wouldn’t have chosen a short point guard with his or her first draft choice.
It is probably unfair to compare Kahn to an average fan. The average fan knows that NBA teams don’t win by emphasizing “up-tempo” offenses. They win with defense, rebounding, half-court execution and intelligent play. Fast-break baskets are the result, not the cause, of well-played basketball.
It is clear now that Kahn hired Rambis and assistants Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus not because Kahn recognized them as gifted coaches but because he had heard of them.