Rambis: Blame him, president for Wolves season
Judging strictly on wins and losses, these Minnesota
Timberwolves rank among the worst for a franchise with a long
history of losing.
The Timberwolves dropped their season finale against the Pistons
on Wednesday night to finish 15-67, which tied the franchise record
for fewest victories in a season. It’s a dubious distinction that
coach Kurt Rambis attributed not to the players but rather the
long-term vision he and new president David Kahn have for the
“The blame falls right here with David and myself,” Rambis
said after the team’s final shootaround. “It’s not the players’
fault. It’s our fault. But we are going to move forward. In my
mind, this is our launching point.”
Kahn and Rambis took over the basketball operations last summer.
The Wolves haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, and their win
total has steadily decreased from 58 in 2003-04 to just 46 total in
the two years before this one.
Kahn reshaped the roster, with many moves geared toward freeing
up salary cap space for the team to make a run this summer at what
is expected to be a bumper free agent crop.
All those personnel moves left the Timberwolves with one of the
league’s youngest rosters. The lack of a true veteran leader plus
new systems on both ends of the court “put the players in an
extremely difficult environment to win ballgames,” Rambis
The Timberwolves have won just two games since Feb. 6 – not the
kind of improvement that fans wanted to see. The team finished with
three more wins than the league-worst New Jersey Nets.
“Just not knowing each other and playing out there together,
it’s tough,” forward Kevin Love said. “It’s great when you have a
bunch of veteran guys out there who have played together for a
while that can bring along the rookies and second, third-year guys.
It seems like all of our guys are second, third, fourth-year guys.
That was the toughest part.”
Even so, the team has avoided the locker-room volatility and
infighting that often plagues losing teams, which Kahn credited to
“He handled it beautifully,” Kahn said. “He couldn’t have
handled it better. He and the coaches deserve the credit for
creating that kind of safe environment so the players could feel
they could come back on a daily basis, apply themselves and work so
that nobody was moaning about them or criticizing them.”
Kahn said work on next season begins Thursday. The Wolves will
have three picks in the first round of the June draft and more than
$12 million in cap space to use on the free agent market or in
“We had to do what we did in order to launch ourselves with the
capability of moving forward,” Rambis said.