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Timberwolves still searching for coach

MANKATO, Minn. — While Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn continues his methodical search for a new head coach, owner Glen Taylor says it now should be clear why it didn't work out with the old one.

Taylor told The Associated Press on Sunday that the financially motivated trades Kahn has made this summer that have jettisoned veterans Mike Miller, Randy Foye, Mark Madsen, Craig Smith and Sebastian Telfair probably would not have sat well with former coach Kevin McHale, who brought all those players to Minnesota when he was the boss.

Kahn told McHale in June that he would not return to coach next season, but he refused to divulge his reasons for making the decision in a news conference after it was announced.

"It's probably a little bit more obvious why he would have had trouble with Coach McHale," Taylor said. "Some of those guys were really his favorite guys.

"I think David knew he was going in that direction. I think he talked that over with McHale. So I think now you have a better understanding why they both agree that it probably wasn't going to work out in the long run because David was going in a different direction than probably McHale would want to go."

The Timberwolves have been the only team in the NBA without a head coach for seven weeks now. But Taylor said on Sunday that he expects the job to be filled fairly soon.

"I'm under the assumption that, if things go good, that in the next week or so we'll make a decision on the coaching," Taylor said. "He's nailed it down to a few guys. We actually haven't made a decision on the final guy yet. But I think we're close to doing that."

Kahn has said that he is more interested in making the right decision than a quick one, and he has backed that up with an exhaustive search. He interviewed more than a dozen candidates for the initial round and has whittled that down to three finalists — ESPN analyst Mark Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis and Houston assistant Elston Turner.

The process was delayed when Kahn traveled to Spain two weeks ago to discuss draft pick Ricky Rubio's contract situation, but he began conducting the second round of interviews late last week. Turner told Houston television station KRIV-TV that he had a second interview.

Taylor said Sunday that he definitely will want to meet with the prospective coach before a decision is made.

"That's why I can tell you that a decision has not been made," Taylor said. "I can say that for sure."

Taylor also spoke about Rubio's sticky contract situation. The 18-year-old point guard is under contract with DKV Joventut in Spain for another two years, a deal that has a buyout of around $6.6 million.

The Timberwolves can only offer $500,000 to help with the deal, so the financial strain it would put on Rubio is making him think twice about coming to the NBA this season.

"It appears to be just a wait and see thing," he said. "He wants to come, so that's not a problem. It's just that money deal. The team that he has played for is, so far, kind of held on to a higher figure than what his family feels they can afford to give him."

When Kahn flew to Spain to meet with Rubio's family and Joventut officials, he was hoping to help Rubio's representatives reduce the buyout to a level that would make it easier for Rubio to pay. Kahn called the trip "productive" but has not commented specifically on how things went.

The way Taylor sounded on Sunday, it doesn't appear much headway was made in that area.

"I don't know what's going to be his options or if they're going to come down a little bit," Taylor said. "There's nothing more we can do other than go over there and say, 'I wish you guys would work it out.'"

The owner has been encouraged, however, by Rubio's willingness to play for the Wolves. When he was drafted fifth overall in June, there were some reports that he did not want to come to chilly Minnesota and preferred to play in a larger market.

"I communicated with them. I think we got all past that," Taylor said. "I'm confident on his responses that he says this would really be neat to get in the NBA. I think it's his goal and what he really wants. He just wants to be able to do it and be able to afford it."