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Wolves, Rambis inch closer to coaching pact

Kurt Rambis
Kurt Rambis
Chris Carlson, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Long considered the heir apparent to Phil Jackson in sunny Los Angeles, Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis is taking a much different, and colder, route to a head coaching job.

Rambis and the Minnesota Timberwolves have an oral agreement and are completing details of the contract, which is expected to be announced early this week, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement has not been made.

Timberwolves president David Kahn said in a text message he met with Rambis' agent Sunday but has yet to conclude the deal.

The selection ends a seven-week search after Kahn decided in June not to keep Kevin McHale. Rambis was one of three finalists, with and former NBA star Mark Jackson and Houston assistant Elston Turner.

The 51-year-old Rambis has the most head coaching experience of the group. He has been a Lakers assistant for 10 years, was their head coach in the lockout shortened 1998-99 season and has filled in on several occasions for his Hall of Fame coach.

Rambis won four titles with the Lakers as a player and three more as an assistant. He comes to a franchise that has seen many more losses than wins, especially of late.

The Wolves have not made the playoffs since Kevin Garnett led them to the Western Conference finals in 2004. They have won just 46 games in the last two seasons and have changed coaches four times in the last five years.

Minnesota won just 24 games last season and will have an even younger team next season, with star forward Al Jefferson coming back from a torn knee ligament.

In his first summer on the job, Kahn has made three trades already and expects to make more before the season.